Amid Coronavirus fears and their inevitable consequences on the market, it is common for Wall Street to look for guidance from those who have been through more than one season of bull and bear markets for guidance on what to sell, buy, and hold. Warren Buffet, seasoned investor and the well-known “oracle of Omaha” just said last week that “Apple is the best business in the world” and when he talks, the street usually listens.
As a company, Apple has experienced a level of success that leads one to question what it is that makes it so special. What can Apple’s trajectory in the stock market and its successful corporate culture and remarkable client loyalty teach us?
As a life coach who works with a lot of finance types, I decided to tackle this question but to do so through a coaching lens to see if I could find anything life-related that could be interesting. Turns out there are six life lessons that we can learn from Apple as a company that can prove helpful to those of us navigating the stock market roller coaster, running businesses, or simply trying to be well balanced humans. They are:
1. Real value and perceived value aren’t the same thing. Focus on the one that matters.
Apple’s stock soared and gained 86.2% last year and performed well over the S&P 500. It was an incredible year for the company.
That said, just this week, the market capitalization of Apple itself is down $97 billion from its $1.26 trillion valuation on Friday. This drop in particular is the highest between trading sessions for Apple in its history as a company and was caused completely by factors outside of the company’s control. Amazing but true. It makes one wonder how that’s even possible.
Regardless of the impressive performance of the stock just months ago, investors are concerned about oil prices and the continuing spread of COVID-19 around the world and have reacted accordingly. The virus outbreak is causing havoc to supply chains and retail operations in Asia and other regions. In the case of Apple, it has led to production backlogs while the company is trying to retain production capacity. Even though Apple has no bearing over oil prices or the spread of Coronavirus, industry analysts and stock market observers are growing increasingly nervous, Buffet stamp of approval or not.
So how is this relevant to us?
In the stock market the line between a company’s real value and its perceived value is blurred due to the fact that the latter eventually ends up influencing and at times outright determining the former. In life, things are unfortunately the same if we allow it.
We permit our “market” (the opinions of our family and friends, our current and past circumstances, etc.) to influence the way we feel about ourselves to the point where we have trouble separating our real selves from the feedback that we’re receiving based on others’ perceptions. Just like it’s possible for a disparity to exist between Apple’s real performance/value and its perceived one there can also be one in our lives. To stay sane, we must make sure to pay attention to the one that matters and not let the noise taint the way that we see ourselves.
On that note:
2. If your stock is performing poorly, instead of blaming ‘the market’ look within and start there.
You can’t fully control all of your circumstances and you definitely can’t control other people. You can, however, control yourself. Focusing on that one controllable is enough. If your current approach isn’t working, change your leadership style, restructure, revise your plan, or move into to a different market– do what you need to do to shift your direction.
Apple did so spectacularly in the late 90’s and early 2000’s by letting go unsuccessful product lines and by forming an unconventional partnership with former nemesis Microsoft to bring Mac users access to the Office suite of services. Apple changed course and it worked if history serves as an indicator of what’s coming, they’ll do so again to manage this current crisis.
3. Always remember that turnarounds are possible.
Apple itself had one of the most dramatic turnarounds in stock market history (a 22,003% price increase) when Steve Jobs came back on board at a time when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. With a string of product hits and clever marketing, Apple became the company that today is the most valuable tech firm in the world, now worth upwards of $1 Trillion. If Jobs didn’t give up on his creation even though the future looked incredibly bleak for the company, why should you give up on yours?
4. Effective leadership is a crucial component of success.
Speaking of Jobs, you can’t talk about Apple and ignore the man who helped it become what it is today. You can say many different things about him as a man and even as a leader but there are a couple of things that are indisputable. He knew what Apple stood for, he had a clear vision of where he wanted the company to go, and he was relentless in his pursuit of it.
How would our lives be different if we approached them in that way? If we became the visionary and tenacious CEO’s of ourselves and our futures?
5. In the stock market like in life, real success is measured in the long term.
Remember the G4 Game Cube? What about Ping? Yup. Me neither. The point? Apple, like every other company in the world, has made a few less than desirable bets. The lesson? They didn’t allow those blunders to define them. They cut their losses quickly and kept moving forward and so can you.
Finally, and most importantly:
6. The only asset that we have that will never grow is our time. It’s up to us how we make use of it so we should invest it wisely.
It took Apple just 13 years to go from nearly bankrupt to the most admired tech company in the world. How did it do it? It remained true to itself but kept innovating and moving forward.
Apple never rests on its laurels after a successful product launch and has always bounced back from adversity. Why should we be any different?
There you have it. Some practical life lessons courtesy of one of the most interesting companies of our time. Of tomorrow? Who knows. Just ask Nokia.