I learned another critical lesson that would guide the rest of my career: the power of each customer exchange. If the exchange was executed as well as possible—if we made the customer truly successful—we had the opportunity to transform him or her into an Apple loyalist and evangelist. This opened my eyes to the importance of customer success.
At heart I was still a shy computer programming geek addicted to building technology, but right before graduation, two of my entrepreneurship professors, Tom O’Malia and Mac Davis, offered some direct advice that significantly altered my path. They told me that the most successful business executives would be the ones who got real-world experience before starting their own companies. In their opinion, “real-world experience” was a sales position focused on building relationships with customers. They called it “carrying a bag.”
We built a culture simply by doing what we enjoyed. We wore Hawaiian shirts to instill the aloha spirit in the company. We ate late breakfasts at one of my favorite restaurants, Mama’s, just down the street on Washington Square. Dave brought his dog to work. I got a dog too, a golden retriever named Koa, who also joined us in the office and soon got promoted to CLO (chief love officer).
Pam was correct in her assumption that the industry would be interested in hearing from us. Prominent journalists attended, including David Kirkpatrick of Fortune and David Einstein, the West Coast bureau chief of Forbes, and people understood that we were talking about something bigger than CRM: “The End of Software.”