Leaving Apple

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. For some of my friends, too long.  For some of my family, I’m crazy.  For me, I know that THIS is the right time to move on.


There was a time where I really thought that I could potentially be an Apple lifer. Someone who lived, breathed, and bled Apple. I started at Apple two weeks after my 21st birthday, and I was just plain mesmerized. Being a kid from Brooklyn, I had never seen anything like it. I had never been around such amazingly smart, talented and driven people. People that cared so deeply about what they were doing.  People that had intense conviction about not only getting the job done but doing it better than anyone else in the world. And why wouldn’t they? They were working on products that would eventually touch, and in many ways change millions and millions of lives. The energy from being around these people was just exhilarating. I never thought you could feel this way about “work.”  It was just a job, right? That’s the thing, for many people at Apple, it's NOT just a job, its a calling. 


Now, I’m 29. I’ve spent almost my entire 20s at Apple —  really my entire adult life.  Just saying that makes me cringe a bit — but, it was such an amazing ride. I truly feel blessed to have started my career there. I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many amazing people, products and projects — from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone X, to launching entire platforms like tvOS to watchOS — I feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve learned and grown a ton and contributed to the success of some of the most brilliant products ever.  Looking back, its crazy to think about how much my small, mighty, and largely unknown team has had their fingerprints on every product launch, every marketing campaign, every retail store event, and really everything Apple did as a company.  To be able to say that for any company is amazing.  To be able to say that for a company like Apple is truly an honor. 


So why leave? Maybe I’m hitting an early mid-life crisis (how do you define those anyway? lol). I don’t think so though. I think the answer is pretty simple — Growth. Professional, yes. But more so, personal. You see, I’ve been through every flavor of product launch at Apple. Worked with every type of app developer, big and small.  Innovative, and not so innovative.  Worked with everyone from executives to account managers. Launched new platforms, selected content for launch events, written scripts, and defined the creative direction for Keynote presentations viewed by millions of people. In my profession, it doesn’t get much better than that.  And herein lies the problem.  Once you realize that there isn’t much room for you to grow professionally in your current environment, you’ve got to do some soul searching personally and ask yourself, “Do I really feel fulfilled?” Yes, even at a company like Apple. 


When I first started at Apple, it was the golden age of learning for me. Professionally, it was a great place to be, but more importantly, I was learning, and growing —  at neck-breaking speed. It was inspiring to come to work every day. You see, Apple is a great place to become the best in the world at your particular craft (if you aren’t already). That’s why its Apple. There are some of the most talented people in the world, working on very, very specific things.  And many times, you find that the company culture pushes them to become EVEN BETTER.  But as time went on, my growth slowed, and slowed, and eventually stopped. I felt like the world was evolving, and I wasn’t. What was particularly troubling was the fact that I realized that my growth, or non-growth, had no impact on the company that I once felt such a strong connection to. We were printing money quarter after quarter, but for me, that didn’t feel like an accomplishment. I didn’t take any pride in that.  In fact, it led to me feeling more and more disconnected from the company.  I could do my job better and better with less and less effort, yet we were selling devices at record rates.  I felt like I had so much more potential to make an impact on products, people, and lives.  If not at Apple, somewhere. Doing something. But this, this wasn’t it. So, sadly,  it was clear, it was time to go.


So what's next!? Phew, good question. I’ve got a lot that I want to pursue, and I mean A LOT.  I have a couple of ideas that  I’ve been cultivating for years now — projects and products, new tech, investments, and on and on and on.  I hope that this change will allow me to focus on them and develop them to reach their full potential. They are challenges that I look forward to taking on.  At the very least, I’ll learn and grow substantially, and that's really all I can ask for. I plan on getting to them all (or at least most of them) at some point. But for now, I’ll take some time to travel, consult, and, of course,  PARRRRTTYYY!  Hasta Luego! 

akil king15 Comments