Why I left Apple. Why I am trying to leave Work.

I wanted to stop rationalising. I couldn’t square the dilemma. I was sick of the wrestling.

The value of I was doing, from selling shoes to selling phones, needed more rationalisation than I could stomach. The “rationalized” values were at least “one order” away from what I was actually doing daily:

Selling iPhones:
{1st Order Impact} Selling people expensive electronic gadgets
{2nd Order Impact} Enriching lives by giving them insanely great tools

Selling Nike Shoes:
{1st Order Impact} Selling people expensive shoes
{2nd Order Impact} Encouraging them to participate in sports
{3rd Order Impact} Making people live a healthier life

People Management:
{1st Order Impact} Contracting people to do tasks by paying and punishing them
{2nd Order Impact} Help them learn about themselves, find purpose, and grow
{3rd Order Impact} Changing the lives of people

“[I was] naive about the flip side of the coin.”

Tim Kendall, “The Social Dilemma”

At the core, the issue was I didn’t understand the compromises I had to make by signing up with a company. I was complicit in perpetuating the good and bad deeds of an organization. I was naive about the flip side of the coin.

I felt dreadful. I felt the need to be able to separate what Apple stood for and did from my own values. I felt I needed to turn a blind eye to the logical gap between evangelising Nike shoes and disassociating with any of its contrarian actions. I struggled to defend the brands I submitted to at dinner tables. I did not know how to explain to my kids what I did deserved to exist.

To be absolutely clear, I do have real life demands that I have to succumb to. I have to straddle in this twilight zone. I too have a mortgage to pay, kids to send to school, and unnecessary things that define me, that I need to possess.

Today we no longer need to spend a lot of intellectual energy to agree that working for a company like Philip Morris is more bad than good. That wasn’t the case during our parents’ generation. We are only beginning to understand the “flip side of the coin” of many of the brands that we consider great and benign, from Uber to LVMH to Tencent. I believe that when our kids start their careers, it will be unthinkable for them to accept these brands the way we embrace them today.

So what am I going to do about it? I don’t know. I can’t escape the realities. I am trying to see if doing more good elsewhere would negate the bad I might be contributing to. I am trying to get to net positive. Then, I read that philanthropy was merely a way to deflect moral contradictions….