Steve Jobs has died. He was too young to go. Too talented and visionary not to be missed. Too important to his company, Apple, for his shareholders and the markets to take the potential impact on its share value lightly.
But, ultimately, it wasn't his vision or the "magical" products that Apple created that are his most important legacy. It is that he defined the difference between the two types of executives and entrepreneurs that exist: Givers and Takers. Moreover, he taught that, by being a Giver, you can create previously unimaginable levels of success for everyone.
Here's how it works.
The "Giver" Business Model
Take a product – like the iPod – and rather than doing deals only within the industries whose materials you're distributing – like music and movies – open the doors to other creators. People who have all sorts of ideas and innovations and creative products and projects they'd like to present.
Make it easy for those people to present their products and ideas and innovations so that they, too, have a platform. Just like the Big Boys. And maybe they can become Big Boys, too, because they get to choose whether the product they're presenting is free or for a fee – of which, of course, you get a piece.
Now extend it even further. As you build on your product and create even more opportunity – like through the iPhone – you have a new audience of creators and consumers who want more than just music and movies. They want games... and functionality... and applications that make their lives easier and more enjoyable. Like from the App Store – where even more creators and visionaries have the opportunity to build and sell their dreams. Because you made it possible. And you still get your cut of their revenues. But, about that cut...
As important as creating the platform for those who aspire to become those who achieve, don't be greedy. Take a percentage, but make it reasonable – like 30% – so that those who are now able to sell on your site are getting the majority of the money they're making, for you and for them.
And that's what Steve Jobs did. He created a means for those who want to do and be more to have that opportunity by joining in to his dream to create products that did and were more.
Givers and Takers: Which Do You Want to Be?
There are far more examples of Takers than Givers out there – and that's a sad state of affairs for society, the economy and innovation worldwide. The Takers, of course, are the executives and entrepreneurs who are only and exclusively concerned with their personal and their share value. When they create, they don't extend – or not without charging usurious fees to be able to play on their platform.
Which raises the key question: Which do you want to be – a Giver or a Taker? It's an easy one to answer because all you have to do is look at your current business model and ask yourself:
What are you doing to create success for others even as you grow your own?
Who are you working with – and are they as committed to helping you succeed as you are helping them create success?
Is every stakeholder benefiting from what you do?
Steve Jobs didn't start out as a Giver. That wasn't Apple's intent. But that's what it became – because it led it toward that goal.
And shouldn’t we all do the same?
About The Author - Writing for QFINANCE, Leslie L. Kossoff is also the author of Executive Thinking: The Dream, the Vision, the Mission Achieved and The Proactive Guide to Troubleshooting Quality, Change and Development Initiatives (The Executive Series).
The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.
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