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I’m doing something different today: I’m talking about current events.
Apple has removed the headphone jack in it’s latest device: the iPhone 7.
Crazy or brilliant?
This move has been rather controversial (as have previous bold-at-the-time moves like removing the floppy and CD drives from devices), but it is a calculated move nonetheless.
Today’s show isn’t exclusively about Apple—it’s more about the concept of patience in business and making decisions in the best interest of the long game.
Whether you love or hate Apple, their actions affect us all—and there are lessons to be learned. We’ll be talking about those today.
Again, the point of the episode is not Apple but to use the topic as an opportunity to dive into a discussion about the long game. We do talk about Apple, but you should listen regardless of whether you care that Apple removed the headphone jack.
We talk about the future in regards to innovation and market acceptance, how people react to change, and how to set yourself up with enough cash reserves to afford to think about the long game.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Be impatient when it comes to taking action but patient when it comes to seeing results.
- Apple has a long game plan and the courage to do the things that are going to make people upset now so that we can progress and make things more efficient.
- Plan for the long game but don’t act on it until you have the resources.
- If you have enough cash to survive and you play the long game, you can win.
- Start by solving the problems people already know they have, because they’re much easier to market.
- 03:49 Ben: Here’s the thing about taking responsibility and ownership for things. If you take responsibility and ownership and you don’t feel shame about those things, you recognize where you did wrong and where you fell short and what you could have done differently. I think that keeps you from feeling like you have to hide or conceal your mistakes. The alternative is blaming other people, blaming circumstances, or whatever. Then, it’s like, “If I can’t make a good enough case that this was not my fault, I have to hide it, because I don’t want people to see my failure.”
- 04:36 It wasn’t a huge deal, but I prepared a workshop that I was going to put on yesterday, and I did zero advertising and marketing. I didn’t let anybody know it was coming. I didn’t put it on Facebook. I didn’t share it with my email list.
- 04:55 Sean: I have to tell people how I experienced it as a Snapchat viewer of your story. The story starts out with Ben smiling, and he’s like, “It’s going to be a great day. Oh, you’re wondering why I’m all dressed up?” He’s got a nice, collared shirt on and he’s looking spiffy. He’s like, “That’s actually because I’m headed to lead a workshop.” Then we see you driving downtown, going in, and showing us the venue. You’re like, “I’m going to be doing a workshop in this classroom over here, so I used the whiteboard outside the classroom to make this nice sign with custom lettering and an arrow pointing to the door.” We’re excited for you at this point.
- 05:40 Ben: So then nobody showed up.
- 05:44 Sean: By nobody, how many exactly do you mean?
- 05:52 Ben: Zero. Some folks had signed up through my website. I had a registration page. I think I was thinking, “I’ll have three or four people there who registered through my website.” I like the idea of it being small, because then I can do more one-on-one stuff with them. That’s where I want to start out with these workshops anyway. Eventually, it would be fun to be presenting to 20 or 30 people, but I feel like where you really get traction is building relationships one-on-one.
- 06:37 Sean: We’ve talked about that.
- 06:38 Ben: I’m not going to do any extra stuff. I’m just going to focus on these few people.
- 06:46 Sean: I just want to say that that’s the right thing to do, by the way. Even if just a couple of people showed up, you wouldn’t say, “Sorry guys, there’s not enough here to do a workshop.” You go, “Hey, awesome! We’ll do a more intimate brainstorming/consulting kind of a session.” Even if you’ve got two people, that’s cool.
- 07:05 Ben: Anyway, they didn’t show up. We did a last minute announcement for the entrepreneur community I’m part of downtown, and it was so last minute that I can’t imagine that anybody would take time out of their schedule to come to a last minute thing like that. About 15 minutes in, I said, “Okay, I guess nobody’s going to show up today.”
- 07:35 Sean: I’m watching the story. At this point, I’m thinking, “Man, what do you do? I guess you drive back.” What you did next really surprised me, Ben. I didn’t expect it at all, but I was so happy to see that. You found a way to turn this around.
- 07:54 Ben: Well, I had already spent a lot of time preparing the material. I knew it was valuable stuff. I knew there were people who wanted to be there, who would have liked to have been able to hear what I had to say. I thought, “I’m just going to go ahead and do a Facebook Live event and present this stuff.” I set my phone up on a table and propped it against my water bottle. I tried to point it in the right angle so you could see the TV and me talking. I spent the next 30 minutes just presenting on Facebook Live.
- 08:33 Now, I’ve got that. I can point people to it as a resource. It also gave me an opportunity to perform the material. There’s a difference between preparing it and having that stuff in your head and performing and delivering it. I can see where I can improve on delivering that same content in the future in other mediums and stuff like that. A lot of positive things came out of it. Even though it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, I feel very happy with what I was able to do with it.
- 09:12 Sean: I was feeling the whole journey. I was watching as it was happening. I was there with you in spirit, Ben. I was like, “Ugh, this is such a bummer!” I wanted to commend you for how you handled it and turned it into something positive. You’re keeping a good outlook.
- 09:31 Ben: Thank you. I do want to learn something from this. I knew better than to think that just because someone registered through my website that they’re going to automatically show up. I need to have contact with them before. I need to be following up with people. I need to be getting the word out. If I want five people to show up to this workshop, I need to make sure that 50 people hear about it.
- 09:57 Sean: So true. While we’re on this topic, I can relate. I honestly expected seanwes conference, the first year, to sell out early in the year. I didn’t do that much promotion. We sent out emails once to the main list. I kind of expected more members to show up. I figured, “It will pretty much sell itself. I’m not going to worry about it.” We actually did not sell out. I thought for sure we would sell out.
- 10:31 On the bright side, it’s going to be an incredible conference. It’s going to be like an intimate retreat. I still think it would have been great if we had sold out, and it certainly would have helped us with the budget and everything. It’s going to cost us a lot of money. It’s a lot out of pocket, and it’s not anywhere near profitable, but we want to make a great experience and continue doing this every year. I was talking to Nathan on my way back from Dallas. We were in Austin, and he said that the best conference he’s ever been to was under 100 people.
- 11:08 He’s like, “It was so good. It was like hanging out with people, nice and intimate.” I think ours is going to be really good. Obviously, I want more people to come next year, so I’ve learned my lesson. Rather than relying on having interested people, you really have to promote and then over-promote.
- 11:33 Sean: Speaking of promoting things, Apple has been promoting something. It’s a new iPhone. We’re going to do something I normally don’t do in this show, which is talk about current events. I kind of like to talk about more principled things, evergreen stuff that’s relevant for many years to come. You talk about the latest software, hardware devices, or current events, and it dates your content. When someone listens to this in a while, they’ll say, “Oh, I understand the era they were living in.” Maybe that can take them out of the moment. It could affect their listening experience.
- 12:14 But, on the flip side, when you speak to something while it’s relevant, new, and fresh, that can increase engagement in the now. I know that I need to balance this out a little bit more. I need to speak about current events. In this particular show, I’m not specifically making it about Apple, but I’m using Apple as an example. They removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. It’s a pretty big move, a pretty controversial move. The topic of today’s show is about the concept of patience in business and how to win the long game. I want to tease apart this situation, and whether you love or hate Apple, the decisions they make as the word’s most valuable company affect us all.
- 13:04 I think there’s lessons to be learned. I did preorder the iPhone 7 Plus, and my brother asked me, “What size did you get?” I just gave him a look, which means I got the big one. The big one is now 256 GB. I got the matte black. I’ve had eight white iPhones, and I got the black. It just looks so nice. They sold it so well.
- 13:34 Ben: I want that one so bad.
- 13:36 Sean: I also got the Apple Watch Series 2, even though I have the first one. I’m going to sell this one off. Honestly, I can convince myself with their selling points, but it’s more about the fact that I want to keep my investment current. I’m always going to update and sell the old one for a small difference in price, because I can just keep doing that every single time. If I wait, if I lag behind, my device goes down in value. I like to keep it current. It frustrates me, because all I can think about is how irrelevant all of these details will be in a few months or a few years. I have to focus on how this is relevant to people now.
- 14:22 It’s also historical value. Apple has made, previously, very controversial moves, and if there was documentation around that or people’s thoughts shared around that time, it’s really insightful to look back on. When Apple removed the floppy drive from computers, it’s a humorous thing to us now. It’s comical. When they removed the CD drive, it was a little more painful. I got my first Mac in 2011. It was an iMac. I was not just a Windows guy, I was a hardcore Windows guy. I’m all about PCs. I had a computer business that was 95% Windows work, PC stuff. I was very invested.
- 15:09 Ben: You have to wonder why 95% of your customers needed help with their Windows computers… I’m just kidding.
- 15:19 Sean: I resisted for a long time, but my gateway drug was an iPhone. While we’re in the context of this long game thing, I got the original iPhone in 2007. I had always been early to the Personal Digital Assistant scene, PDAs—palm pilots, Sony CLIEs. When I was 12 or 13 years old, I got my first eBay account. I was buying and selling PDAs on eBay. I would repair them, repair the screens, and sell them. I had a lot of fun with that. The iPhone came along, and I was like, “Oh, cool! A new PDA!”
- 16:06 The first thing I did was to jailbreak it. I installed custom firmware on it so I could get third party apps. A lot of people don’t know this, but the first iPhone did not have third party apps. There was no app store. You had a calculator, notes, and a camera. You could call people, send messages, and email. That’s it. You couldn’t add apps. I jailbroke it and I could install apps. One of the apps was this piano app. I recorded myself playing piano on my iPhone, which was this revolutionary thing at the time. “How are you playing piano on your iPhone?”
- 16:42 I made some videos. Some people in the Community have searched the internet and they’ve found them. There are some videos with half a million or a million views of me playing songs on my iPhone piano from years back. Anyway, I got the iPhone and I was like, “This device is incredible.” I had used PDAs for five or six years before that, and they were nothing like it. Nothing ever worked this well. It just worked. I found myself saying that—it just worked.
- 17:16 They’re playing a long game here. I continued buying iPhones. I continued running my computer repair business and using all of my PC computers and laptops. It was a combination of seeing how the user experience of the iPhone was as well as working with my business partner, at the time, who owned a Mac. He was a developer, so he showed me some of the things it could do. My belief was, “I’m a power user. I hack on stuff. I’ve got custom things. I’ve got shortcuts and macros, and Macs are for people who don’t know how to use computers.” That was what I thought.
- 17:59 The more I got into it, the more I realized that you really could do everything you wanted to do and you didn’t get blue screens. It was so much more stable. The gateway drug was the iPhone. That device just worked. I started to realize that it was more than just this device. It was a mentality and an approach, a mission of sorts, that was pervasive throughout all of their offerings, their whole lineup.
- 18:30 Ben: I have a question. I remember back when we were playing together in a band, there was one camp we did where you brought an iPad with you, Sean. You were doing some of your hand lettering on an iPad. Did you have that iPad before or after you purchased your first Mac? Do you remember?
- 18:56 Sean: I might have had it before.
- 18:59 Ben: I’m just wondering if you kind of stair-stepped up, too.
- 19:02 Sean: I think I actually got it right before. When did it come out? 2010? I think the iPad was 2010, and my first Mac was 2011. That got me in. I was like, “I see what you’re about.” Fast forward to now. We’re going to get to some of the moves they’ve made and talk about the principles and how you can apply it. Now, I’ve got a $10,000 Mac Pro. I’ve got two 27 inch displays. I’ve got another 27 inch iMac in another room. I’ve got three iPads. I’ve got the 6S Plus. I’ve had all of the iPhones. What else? Apple TV. We’ve got a Macbook Air. We’re going to be buying a MacBook.
- 19:44 I have pretty much all of their devices. We’re talking many, many thousands of dollars, all because of that one entry level device that showed me what they were about. It hasn’t been that long, five years since I got the Mac, but we’re closing in on a decade—nine years later. Now, I buy my employees devices.
- 20:19 Think about the value of that. That came from just one person’s experience. Now, they’re coming along and they’re doing something that’s controversial to a lot of people. A lot of people are upset about this. They removed the headphone jack. How dare you? It’s this terrible thing. “Oh, they just want to sell adapters.” Adapters? They’re not going to get rich off of adapters. It’s not about selling adapters. It’s not about their proprietary system. A lot of people didn’t believe this, and they still don’t. There was something in their recent keynote where they introduced the Air Pods.
- 20:57 Sean: They include Ear Pods with each device. It’s a wired set of ear phones, and they used to plug into the headphone jack. Now, it’s a lightning connector. It plugs into the bottom of the phone. They’ve released Air Pods, which are wireless versions of these. They don’t have wires at all. While they were introducing it, they said this phrase. They kind of gave a little bit of their mission statement. They said, “We’re just at the beginning of a truly wireless future we’ve been working towards for many years.” They’ve got a vision.
- 21:38 This is going to be outdated pretty quick, because they’ll already have released it, but at the time of this recording, that Mac Pro right there is the most powerful device that Apple sells. That Mac Pro is the newest Mac Pro they have, and it’s a 2013 device. It has been over 1,000 days since they’ve updated it. The same is true with these Thunderbolt Displays. These 27 inch displays aren’t retina. They’re not 4K. They’re not 5K. It’s 1X. When Apple releases new devices now, they’re all in on retina. They’re all in on high resolution, high DPI displays.
- 22:20 They’re not going to release something new, a new iPhone, iPad, or MacBook without a high resolution display. Yet, these 27 inch monitors are ridiculous. The price is $1,000. People are like, “That’s stupid. I can find the same display for $379 online. It’s just not going to be an Apple display, but it’s the same tech.” The Apple people don’t care. You can call them sheep, but they know that things work. It has the brand on it, and the Apple brand means something because of expectation and consistency. That’s why I ended up buying a Mac.
- 23:00 It’s because I saw how things worked on a smaller scale with an iPhone. These displays here are not retina, not 5K, not high resolution. They originally came out and were called Cinema Displays. That was 2007? 2008? 2009? We’re going on a decade since they’ve seriously updated these displays. The MacBooks are out. It’s been hundreds of days. For the whole Mac lineup, it’s been many hundreds of days since they’ve updated them. Everyone’s like, “Where are the Macs? What is your problem, Apple? Have you forgotten? Do you not care? Are you just all in on iPhones?” Certainly, they’ve sold over a billion iPhones now.
- 23:48 A total of a billion iPhones. Here’s your perspective. For every dollar that Instagram was sold for, Apple has sold an iPhone. It’s absolutely nuts. Obviously, a lot of their revenue comes from that, but they would be stupid not to update their Macs. All of their developers work on Macs. They build the future systems and software on Macs. If for no other reason than for their own developers, they need to give them current tools. You’re not developing that on an iPhone, at least not just yet.
- 24:19 Ben: Maybe they do have updated equipment that we just don’t know about yet. I want to say this. You said before that when somebody purchases something, they see what they’re purchasing as more valuable than the money they’re spending on it. I think it’s really a testament to the way Apple has built its brand. If you’re looking objectively at the technology and how much that technology is worth in dollars and cents compared to other things in the market, if that’s all you’re looking at, I’m not enough of an expert to speak to whether Apple’s stuff is priced higher than similar products on the market.
- 25:32 That says a lot about the way that Apple has built their brand.
- 25:35 Sean: That’s very true. Cory Miller says, “I got the same one for $200 from Korea,” the display. The thing is, you can’t bring that display into an Apple store when something goes wrong. It’s not backed up by the same kind of brand and customer experience. It’s not guaranteed to work with everything that you have. Apple is very big on this. People are speculating right now in the live chat, “It’s the 80/20 rule. Most of their sales come from iPhones, so they’re just focused on that.” I don’t think so.
- 26:12 I think they’re playing a much longer game here. I think the reason it’s been 1,000 days since the Mac Pro came out and many more since the others came out is because Apple is prepping a very big, cohesive refresh. I could be wrong, but you look at that MacPro, and people joke and say that it looks like a trash can. It’s just a capsule, a metallic capsule reflective on all sides. It’s got a vent on the top, and there’s almost no ports on it. It has as few ports as they can get away with, which might be frustrating to some people. There isn’t a CD drive. There isn’t even a headphone jack. Is it a line in? Do you know, Cory?
- 27:07 Cory: I don’t know.
- 27:08 Ben: If there is, I think it’s probably similar to the other Macs, where there’s just a single input.
- 27:15 Sean: It might be just a single input. I could be wrong on that. They are trying to simplify as much as possible, and they tip their hand a little bit with this sentence, “We’re just at the beginning of a truly wireless future we’ve been working towards for many years.” These 27 inch displays, they don’t have a 5K version of them yet. There are a lot of technical reasons. Primarily, Thunderbolt doesn’t have enough bandwidth or throughput to power a 5K display. It’s simply not there. Thunderbolt 2 is what they currently have, so it would have to be Thunderbolt 3 to be able to support it. Maybe the display has its own graphics card inside. It’s pretty crazy.
- 27:57 You’ve got all of these devices, and Apple is not going to release a device that forces people to be on a non-retina screen. I guarantee you. It’s a step backwards. They won’t do it. Things aren’t at that point yet.
- 28:10 Sean: They’re saying that they’re working toward a truly wireless future, one they’ve been working towards for years.
- 28:22 You can be sure that a future iPhone will charge wirelessly. It’s going to happen. You can be sure that they come out with wireless earbuds. That’s what we’ve seen. You can be sure that things are going to move away from wires. They don’t want you to be tethered in any way at all, whatsoever. That’s the future they’re working towards, and they’ve already said that. Things need to line up. Things need to get in line for that. I could be wrong, but you’re probably going to see Macs without a headphone jack. Maybe that’s going to upset people. They’re going to say, “Why is there only one port? This is stupid. This is dumb. How will I use my floppies?” The thing is, that’s not where things are going.
- 29:07 It’s not going in the way of faster floppy drives. It’s not going in the way of more USB ports. It’s going in the way of wireless. To do this, they can’t release a new lineups of Macs and have the headline story be, “New Macs don’t have headphone jack.” They have this sacrifice device. It’s called the iPhone 7. It’s the device that everyone loves to hate. Everyone is going to say how dumb it is. Android, all you have to do to win is to release a bunch of devices with headphone jacks. It’s funny right now.
- 29:44 But that’s their sacrifice device. I guarantee you, they put out those leaks. The reason the iPhone 7 was the most leaked iPhone before it was announced is because they wanted it leaked. They wanted you to get your outrage out about the headphone jack before it came, and then they push the new color, the faster processor speed, and the dual cameras on the back. Nobody actually wants that stuff. I’m upgrading because I always upgrade. That’s what I do. The people who have not upgraded on previous devices for several years are going to upgrade because it’s time. Next year, 2017, is the ten year anniversary since the original iPhone.
- 30:23 Most likely, they will not come out with a 7S or an iPhone 8. I’m thinking they will come out with an iPhone X, an iPhone 10th Anniversary, some very big revolutionary type of design change—something massive. If you look at the iPhone 7 compared to previous versions, it’s not really anything different. It has the same form factor. It’s a little faster. It’s got dual cameras on the back. None of us asked for that. The 6S Plus camera is amazing. It’s really great. I’m getting the new one. I’m sure I’ll love it, but none of us were asking for that. They have to put dual cameras in this thing. The battery isn’t really better. It’s better in some ways, but it’s the same in other ways.
- 31:07 They also incldued waterproof. That’s the other gimmick to get people to buy. People might say, “Well, it’s been a while since I upgraded, and waterproof is pretty sweet and those cameras look pretty cool.” Otherwise, all it is is a sacrifice device. It’s the device that has no headphone jack, which people will not be happy about. They don’t like change. Everyone hates change. Apple will try to soften that by including a device that’s an adapter, a Lightning 2, 3.5 millimeter adapter, they’ve included it to soften it, but that’s all it is. It’s a sacrifice device, so when the future iPhone X comes out, the headline story is not, “Doesn’t have a headphone jack.”
- 31:52 When the Mac lineup comes out, the headline story is not, “Doesn’t have a headphone jack.” That’s what I think.
- 31:58 Ben: That’s a really interesting take. I’m going to have to agree with you. I think that makes a lot of sense. If I was Apple, this seems like the opportunity to introduce something that people will still buy. People are in love with the iPhone. More than any other device that Apple offers, the iPhone is, hands down, the most popular. Even people who dislike the new innovations are still going to purchase it. If there was ever one to throw out there so you could let people get their rage out, this was the one to do it on.
- 32:48 Sean: They even expected lower sales on it. They didn’t say why, but they did put out their projections. That was before they announced that it didn’t have a headphone jack. As it got closer, they saw people’s responses to the leaks, and they revised their projection. They said, “Actually, we were conservative. It’s going to sell out.” It did sell out. The next day, after preorders were announced, everything was only shipping in November, which is several months later. I thought that was really interesting.
- 33:22 Sean: The other thing I want to highlight here is for anyone who has kids or younger siblings. I have younger siblings. I have a two year old sister and a four year old brother, and they are naturals with these touch devices. What do they have? They have iPhones, the iPad, a Kindle… A few years old, and they’re swiping around, tapping, touching.
- 33:50 Ben: On family movie night, I set up our TV in our living room. We don’t usually have one in there, but it’s low enough to the ground that my 18 month old can reach it. He walks up to it and is tapping the screen. At 18 months old! That’s actually not very good parenting.
- 34:10 Sean: He’s got to learn. You’ve got these kids coming in. The kid isn’t asking, “Where’s the stylus?” When Apple came out with the iPhone, people from the PDA realm said, “Where’s the stylus?” Everyone is so focused on the past.
- 34:32 Was it Ford who said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘faster horses.'” Kids are not asking, “Where’s my stylus?” They’re just touching the screen. There are kids being born right now who will only live in a future where all headphones are wireless.
- 34:56 Ben: They’re not going to have headphones, Sean. They’re going to have integrated bio-speakers.
- 35:06 Sean: I’m just thinking, if you could hijack that, you could say whatever you want to people. It’s kind of scary.
- 35:12 Ben: There would have to be a whole new market around wireless security.
- 35:17 Sean: The point is, the way Apple got me started nine years ago, they’re also going to get the next generation. Maybe they mess up. Maybe they take a wrong step and they lose their leading position and it becomes someone else. The point is, you’ve got to get that next generation.
- 35:55 Do you have any thoughts on that before we get to questions, Ben? I know there are a few that relate to this point.
- 36:01 Ben: I posted something on Twitter earlier because I was thinking about this, not knowing the direction you were going. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine earlier this morning. I think he’s met you before. He knew of you and he knew that I did a podcast with you. I was just talking about you and the things you do in business. It came up because he said, “Oh, did he get sponsors for the podcast?” I said, “No,” and it was kind of this surprising, “How is he doing so well if he doesn’t have sponsors for the podcasts?” I was explaining about your approach to business.
- 36:44 We were trying to zero in on the thing that really sets you and other business owners apart who experience success and are able to innovate in business the way that you have. Success in business comes down to being patient and being impatient when it comes to action. I posted this on Twitter this morning. I said, “Be impatient when it comes to taking action. Be patient when it comes to seeing results.” I think that’s what Apple has done here, and I think the timing is very well thought out. As a business person, you have to do the research and understand what kind of market you’re putting your product into.
- 37:37 If you deliberate for too long, you’re going to miss your window of opportunity to take action. If you never take action in the first place, you’re never going to get where you want to go. Once you take that action, then you need to be patient. You can’t say, “Now I’ve done something. Where are my results?”
- 37:57 Sean: I like what you’re saying a lot, Ben. Cory Miller in the chat says, “For all this talk about wireless, as a musician, I’ve had enough experiences with crappy wireless to always opt for wired connection for instruments.” I noticed this. If you’re paying close attention, when Apple announced the Air Pods, not a single time did they say the word “bluetooth.” Not a single time. People have connotations and associations with that word. “I had a crappy bluetooth whatever and it didn’t work well.” You apply that to whatever this is. That’s why they never used the word. People have used crappy bluetooth devices, and it has devalued the bluetooth technology.
- 38:46 The perception of this technology is damaged. You can be sure that if Apple is engineering Air Pods that use bluetooth, and they do, it’s not a proprietary wireless technology, if they’re using bluetooth, it’s because they found a way for it to work well. They understand that people’s perceptions about the word have been tainted by prior experiences. People think wireless equals unreliable. They think bluetooth equals spotty, but it’s not actually the case. If it were the case, I guarantee you, Apple would have come up with a proprietary wireless technology.
- 39:21 Maybe bluetooth evolves. Maybe something else takes its place. Maybe Apple does come up with their own solution to the problem. You can be sure that, as they stated in the presentation, their mission is to reach a truly wireless future.
- 39:40 Sean: Matt says, “Is the long game subjective, and if so, how is it measured?” Pam says, “How long is the long game, anyway? One year? Five years? Ten years? A lifetime?” It’s really interesting. Before I answer that, I’m going to give that question some more color by talking about earning the right. By “earning the right,” I mean earning the right to think long game, which is something I had to learn the hard way a year ago. Robin’s question ties into this. “How much should you focus on long term vs. short term? In order to survive on short term and be capable to invest in long term, you should make money right now, but that seems like a contradiction to me. It feels like it’s bound together.”
- 40:26 I said, “Can you elaborate a little bit on why you feel like it’s a contradiction?” He said, “Sure. For example, when you’re just starting out, if you want to focus on the long term, you should have the resources to back that up, but the resources come from short term results, so where do you start?” You have to start with the short term. That’s a lesson I didn’t learn last year. I had to learn it the hard way. I’m always, by default, a long game thinker, and it turns out that a lot of people are not. A lot of people think short term, so I always heard people say, “You’ve got to think about the big picture. Take a step back and think long term.”
- 41:08 I thought I was good. I thought I was on the right track. I wasn’t told that it is possible to be too long game. You can be too long game focused and have your head in the clouds. For me, I was making decisions based on five and ten years down the road, and the problem with that was that those decisions were not necessarily sustainable for my business right now. I was at a Mastermind retreat, and my friend Ryan said, “You have to earn the right to think long game,” and that was the first time anyone ever told me that. That’s where it really clicked for me.
- 41:55 You always want to think long game, but only act on it if you have the resources. You have to earn the right. How do you earn the right to play the long game? You earn it by playing the short game. It’s step one, play the short game. Step two, play the long game. What does playing the short game mean? Playing the short game means getting cash in the bank. I like to call that “the new zero” (Related: e269 How to Have Six Months of Income Saved in the Bank). Virginia says, “How do you draw the line between patience and procrastination? When do you stop being patient with the short term and make a change to benefit the long term?” You plan for the long game but you don’t act on it until you have the resources.
- 42:36 I like to call this the new zero. The amount you need to pay your bills every month as a household, or as a person, or to pay your employees, or to pay the monthly amount of expenses for your business—multiply that by six. That number is the new zero. That number is the number you have to get to. Think of that as the baseline. Anything below that is being in the negative, being in the red, being below zero. The intent of that is to make you feel hungry, to get you scrappy, so you’re thinking, “How can I get to that new zero? How can I build the financial padding for myself to be able to afford to think about the long game?”
- 43:31 For me, when I hit the new zero, six months expenses in cash in the bank, that’s when I know I can start acting on the long game.
- 43:40 Ben: I think some people have experienced that playing the short game feels like it’s a never-ending thing, that as long as you’re playing the short game and you’re not doing anything long term, you’re always going to stay in the short game. That’s a fear people have based on an experience, but it comes from a mix of actions. They’re doing short term stuff, but they’re also trying to do long term stuff. Maybe they’re also spending their time on things they shouldn’t be spending their time on right now.
- 44:20 They think, “If I stop doing the long game stuff, I’m never going to get out of the short game.” I don’t think that’s true. If you’re thinking that way, if you fear never getting out of the short game, you need to examine what you’re spending your time on right now that you shouldn’t be, in terms of time wasters. Also, examine what things are part of your long term plan that you need to wait to take action on so you can focus on the short term right now. If you’re truly focused on the short term, your brain is going to be working on solutions to those problems more efficiently than if you’re splitting your focus between the short term and the long term. You’re going to be able to dig yourself out of that hole that much faster.
- 45:17 Sean: The long game is a subjective thing, to answer Matt’s question. It is subjective. It’s not like one year is the long game or five years is the long game. Maybe that is, for you right now, or maybe it’s not. You have to figure that out for you. Maybe it takes you a year or five years to get six months of income in the bank, six months of cash reserves. If so, that’s your short term. If you can do that in a few months, maybe your long term is a year or five years. It’s really relative.
- 45:50 Sean: I liked this question from Scott. He said, “Do you ever arrive at the end of the long game, or are you always in a state of future-focus?” It depends. If you’re only in it for yourself, at some point, you have to come out of the long game and realize that you’re going to die. If you’re in it only for yourself, I’m not making any judgement on that. I’m just being objective. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you’re only in it for yourself, at some point you have to stop playing the long game and realize, “I only have so much life left. What do I want to do with that time for myself?”
- 46:35 If you are about more than yourself, if you’re about helping others, some philanthropic mission, passing on a legacy, heirs, or however you want to think of this, it’s indefinite future focus. You would be playing a part in someone else’s continuation of your legacy, and you would continue thinking long game. It’s future focus all the way.
- 47:10 Ben: I like the picture of playing a part.
- 47:14 Sean: Like a baton in a relay.
- 47:20 Ben: You run this section of this race, and then you pass it on to somebody else.
- 47:30 Sean: You’re like, “I started my business. I didn’t get any handouts.” Someone is still supporting you in some way. Your family helped educate you. They helped raise you. Maybe the person before you didn’t pass you the baton, but they’re molding and making it. They give it to you, and you’re running with it, perfecting it, taking it on. You pass it to someone else.
- 47:56 Ben: Even if you’re not thinking about it in terms of a specific person, humanity in general—the innovations, the technologies, and all of the things that precede where you are today make it possible for you to do the things that you can do.
- 48:11 Sean: Someone dedicated their life to designing this microphone, and we certainly didn’t make our computers.
- 48:19 Sean: Cory Miller asked, “How does innovation work together with market acceptance? Should we always be pushing to innovate and solve problems nobody knows they have, or should we be working to solve problems people currently admit to having?” Apple is somewhat unique in this. They can do it. They have 20 years of mistakes and flaws under their belt, and they also have a lot of successes under their belt. Apple has earned the right to solve problems that people don’t know they have.They’ve earned the right to innovate. My recommendation for most people would be to start simple.
It turns out, you have to promote things if you want people to show up.
Apple’s New iPhone
The iPhone was much more than a new PDA, it was a revolutionary device.
I’m all in on Mac—all of our office is on Mac.
Where Are the New Macs?
There is something about Apple that is more valuable to people that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the tech they’re getting.
A World Without Wires
Imagine a world without wires—that is what Apple is realizing.
The version of the future that you can imagine is just extrapolated from the now.
If you have enough cash to survive and you can play the long game, you can end up winning.
What Is the Long Game?
You have to cover your short term expenses to be able to make long game decisions.
The balance between procrastination and patience is to make a plan for the long game but not act on it until you’ve played the short game.
Does the Long Game Ever End?
Innovation & Market Acceptance
Solve the problems people already know they have, because they’re much easier to market.
- 48:58 With the Apple Watch, it sold pretty well, but it hasn’t been widely adopted. It’s seen as a nice to have. People are like, “That’s nice, but I don’t really need that.” Apple has a much different vision, and it’s going to take some years for that to be realized. Think about something like HomeKit. I have a very rudimentary setup.
- 49:39 A few lights, some lights downstairs, some switches in the bedroom for lamps and fans, and I can raise my wrist and say, “Bedtime.” All the other lights in the house go out, but the lamps turn on and the fan’s ready to go. Or, I can say, “Good night,” and if I forgot any of the lights, those will all turn off. The fan’s on. I can do those things with a single word, a single command. If I don’t want to say it, I can also schedule it. I can schedule it for certain days and certain hours when there’s a podcast. I’m writing away. There are certain things I need to prepare. I have this desk light that I don’t need, it’s more decorative, I’ll have it turn off at a very specific time.
- 50:28 What is it? Pavlov’s dog? I go, “Oh, I need to switch tasks. I need to go do something else. Cory’s going to be here and we need to set up for the show. Ben’s going to be here…” It’s scheduled on specific days. Apple knows this. It could be decades away, because current houses would have to be fitted with this kind of thing vs. building it from scratch, which is much easier but doesn’t happen that often. Eventually, everything is going to be connected. Eventually, everything can be controlled with your voice.
Eventually, the device you wear will be the device you always have with you.
- 51:09 We hate leaving our phones because we feel like we’re not connected anymore. “What if I need to look something up? What if I need to contact someone?” We desperately strive not to leave our phones behind if we ever leave, but if it’s already on you, if it’s strapped to your hand, it’s there with you whenever you want it. You can just talk to it. Maybe it doesn’t become a watch. Apple doesn’t want to make a watch. The only reason they made a watch is because you know what a watch is. The only reason they made a phone is because you had a phone. The iPhone is anything put a phone. That’s the last thing you do with it, call people. You do everything else, but the name isn’t going to change.
- 51:52 The name isn’t going to change, but our use of the name will change. Through our use, we have redefined the meaning of the word “phone.” It no longer means a rotary device that you spin a wheel on. Ask any kid under 10 years old what a phone is, and they’ll point to some flat, tablet-looking thing. We’re just redefining the use of the word. Apple came out with a phone because you know what a phone is. It’s all about the gateway drug. It’s all about getting you in and getting you familiar. That’s why iOS 6 had so much skeuomorphism. That’s a term for things like the leather stitching on the Notes app or the felt on the game center app or the shiny buttons and stuff.
- 52:35 People weren’t familiar with full touch screen devices. Everyone was like, “How dare you come out with a phone that doesn’t have a physical keyboard! It’s so obviously short-sighted now, but people said, “Where are the buttons?” iOS 6 had buttons that look like the buttons you press in real life, that look like the stitching on your calendar or on your notepad by your bedside table. They’re trying to get you in. As soon as you’re in and you understand how this works, then it’s about being efficient. Then we got iOS 7. It comes in, it streamlines the design and the user interface, but now you’re familiar with it.
- 53:14 They get you accustomed to Siri on the iPhone so you can use your voice to do almost anything you want to do. Then they come out with a device that’s almost exclusively Siri. They call it a watch, because what else would you strap to your wrist? Now, we’re going to have these Air Pods, these little things that go in your ear. Right now, they stick out. Eventually, they won’t. Right now, they have a little W1 chip. Eventually, it will have an entire computer inside of it. You put this thing in, and everything you want to do, you can do. You just speak it. “I don’t want to speak things. I like looking at things and tapping things.”
- 53:54 Number one, I’m sure you do, but things will change and you will adapt to them. If you think you won’t, there will still be things you can touch and there will still be things you can see. It may not be a device anymore. It may be that you can project it on a screen or that all of the walls are screens or that you have a device, like a contact lens, where you see whatever you want to see in conjunction with the device in your ear.
- 54:28 You’re going to be able to see whatever you want to see whenever you want to see it wherever you want to see it and get access to the information you want without moving your hands, just speaking. Just with your voice. “I want my house to look this way. I want it to have these lights on. I want it to be ready for me.” Eventually, it will learn from our habits, and it will do as many things as possible automatically so we don’t have to do it anymore.
- 54:51 Ben: That sounds like a lot of fun.
- 54:55 Sean: It’s going to be fun. The question was, “How does innovation work together with market acceptance?” Apple can solve those problems because they have a lot of successes and failures under their belt and a lot of cash in the bank.
- 55:13 Ben: It’s just the value of the brand. When you don’t have that kind of customer loyalty and all of those other things that Apple has, you can’t afford to solve problems that people don’t know they have yet.
- 55:33 Sean: Eugene says, “I hope to be long gone before the future Sean McCabe paints.” What’s the way you see it, Cory McCabe?
- 55:44 Cory: Is that your thing? Is this your favorite part of the show? I won’t answer his question yet. I’ll talk more generally. I like how you talk about the step one and the step two with the short game and the long game. You have to first play the short game before you can play the long game. I’m bringing this up because some of the people in the chat saw the long game as this plan, but that’s not what it is. Playing the long game means taking actions now that don’t make sense to get an immediate return. That’s the long game. It’s not necessarily just having a five year plan.
- 56:22 Sean: Right. There’s a difference between playing the long game and planning the long game. You should always plan, but when you play, that’s taking action. I don’t think you should be taking action on the long game until you’ve taken action on the short game.
- 56:38 Cory: I want to make sure people know where they are. Maybe, right now, your focus should be the short game, and you need to get six months of revenue in the game for the new zero. I love that idea. To Eugene’s thing, I was starting to type. I said, “Personally, I dislike change as well. I like things to stay the same and be how they’ve always been, because there’s familiarity there and there’s comfort there.” Lately, I’m excited to be a part of this change, because in the past 15 years, we’ve been growing extremely fast. It’s 2016 right now. Even just for me, the movie industry is only 100 years old or a little more, but it’s crazy. We’re growing extremely fast for the time we’re in. I’m kind of excited to see where it goes. I don’t want to be long gone before this happens.
- 57:31 Sean: Well, it’s scary. A lot of people do. A lot of people don’t like change. A lot of people will be upset about the headphone jack being removed. I’ve got a bunch of devices that plug into headphone jacks. It’s not going to be pleasant, but it always has to be some kind of leap like this. People made fun of Apple, but the word is courage. They have the courage to make the change. Google doesn’t care. They’re never going to do that on Android devices, because they care more about the now, the sales, and the very wide reach of the thousands of Android devices that are all kinds of fragmented, every single screen size you can imagine—fragmentation, fragmentation, fragmentation. They’re not going to make that change.
- 58:26 They’re not going to piss off that many people, because they have no incentive to do it. Apple has a long vision.
Apple is all about connectivity, making things more seamless, and getting you into their ecosystem.
Apple has a long game plan and the courage to do the things that are going to make people upset now so that we can progress and make things more efficient.