The Shadow of Steve Jobs, Part 1

We weren’t very big, but our clients were. There were the names you all would know – BMW, Subaru, GlaxoSmithKline, Corning, Dr. Scholls, Gallo Wines – and big names that only Canadians would be familiar with – Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, Loblaws.

Steve Jobs in 1995

The company owner was an absolute devotee of Steve Jobs and everything Apple (as was I at the time). He was also the point man on the sales team (we were a small shop).

Apple announced a new and much improved MacBook. Then they announced the caveat: only available in America.

The owner called me into his office, upset at this apparent snub. (This was 25 years ago, I’m not going to quote what was said, because memory isn’t accurate at that range) The gist of the conversation was that he wanted this shiny new toy and he wanted me to help him get it.

We discussed and discarded the idea of going to the States to buy one. No, he wanted it delivered here.

So we worked out an email, addressed to Steve Jobs.

We stated that although we were very small, we were a trusted service supplier to, and in the boardrooms of, companies Apple was trying to court.

Currently, we explained, we went in and did our presentations with MacBooks, which was often noted and discussed. We were very enthusiastic about Apple.

But our IT department wanted the whole shop to standardise onto Windows (which was true). If we couldn’t go into these boardrooms with state-of-the-art Macs, we’d be forced to do it with state-of-the-art Windows laptops, and Apple would lose an evangelical edge in those boardrooms.

We sent it to

About a week later, we got a call from the largest Apple dealer in Toronto (this was way before Apple stores) telling us that one of these brand new, not-available-in-Canada laptops had been sent to them with specific instructions to sell it to us and only us (There was an underlying tone that this transaction was being scrutinized).

I got to go with the boss to the store to buy the laptop. The whole sales staff gathered around as we unboxed it, registered everything and gave it a test boot. There was lots of ‘ooh’ing and ‘aaw’ing.

Finally, one of the staff asked the question they were all holding back, “Who are you?”

I don’t know that we had a satisfying answer for them except that we were the guys Steve Jobs listened to.

It felt good.