I am rarely surprised about what comes out of Apple, but this caught even me a little off guard. Some of you know that I have a long history with Apple . I have seen things that I still have a hard time believing. However, my recent experience with Apple's unreal world is a reminder of just how weird things can get for you if your paycheck comes from the folks in Cupertino.
In October of 2001, I was named manager of the year for my team's outstanding performance in the federal market. A friend took a picture of my team at the awards banquet. I have always treasured the picture and been very proud of our accomplishment since we were covering the worlds largest IT market with a handful of people.
I wanted to include the picture in my book and took the time to ask each person in the picture for their permission to be in the book. It wasn't a controversial photo. No one was nude or holding a Windows PC. Much to my surprise three of the five current Apple employees declined to be in the photo. I edited the image so they are unrecognizable.
One person admitted to being afraid of the consequences of being in the photo, and I respect that. Two came up with excuses that were plain laughable.
You can try to appreciate the situation by working through this. For a moment imagine worrying about being in a photo taken eleven years ago when your team was the tops at Apple. Then think about worrying about the photo being in a book that you didn't write and which you haven't even seen but which is basically a historical account of someone else's career in the fictional Pomme Company. Then remember that none of these employees are even named in the book.
If you have that scenario in your mind, you now know just how much control Apple exercises over its people. The whole episode reminds me a little of the "Minority Report."
When a former manager of mine who is in the picture heard about the incident he asked, "What is the story with these people? Are they in a witness protection program?"
He has been gone from Apple for almost ten years, and I exited a little over eight years ago. We have both returned to a normal world where you aren't afraid to open a box of literature before a keynote speech. I don't miss folks worrying about someone from the press tricking them into answering a question.
The culture of fear runs deep in Apple sale's division. If you want to know about life at Apple in sales, you can now read my newly published book, "The Pomme Company."
Some friends have said my book should be required reading for people wanting to join Apple's sales force.
The book has taken a little over a year and was interrupted by a note from Apple's legal folks warning me to adhere to my non-disclosures. That is actually easy to do since most of us at Apple heard no secrets. The joke used to be that when we wanted to find out what Apple was about to announce we would check out MacSurfer.
My book is about my somewhat amazing journey. I went from running a cattle operation in eastern Canada to being the director of federal sales for Apple. The journey actually started just after we dispersed our cattle and I started selling Apple II+s for a small company in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It ended with me as director of federal sales sitting on Capitol Hill with Avie Tevanian in a cyber security hearing.
My career at Apple transformed my life and that of my family. I'll be interested to hear what people think of the book which is priced at $5.99. It has lots of pictures of historical interest to people interested in Apple.
Most of all if you want a peak at the Apple culture that I saw, my book will be a cure for your curiousity.