Rob's Soapbox Archives

June 7th, 2010


In the end, when all is said and done only one thing is going to have defined your life in the abstract; did you believe in yourself? Did you idolize yourself before all others while maintaining humility in the face of creation?

Did you take risks?

Painful, terrifying risks; knowing that if you failed, you had the ability, drive and determination to overcome?

Ron Wayne didn’t. He didn’t believe in himself, even though he believed in his product and his partners. He knew, for certain that his product and the people behind it were going to be successful, but he didn’t believe that he could take it. He couldn’t take the risk, the roller-coaster ride, the sleepless nights and the inevitable second guessing. He was a coward who didn’t believe, in the end, in himself and his ability, and in that end, it cost him $22 billion. That’s what happens when you’re afraid.

Long story short; in 1976, already in his 40s, Wayne met up with two young entrepreneurs who had knowledge and skill that Wayne could recognize but couldn’t even begin to comprehend. What the two youngsters didn’t have were maturity and business skills, but Wayne did, so he became the mentor and the decider. His job was to basically guide the talent through the tumultuous and risky business world and help them settle disputes on such issues. Since they were the talented ones, they were 90% of the operation (45% each), and Wayne was named 10% of the brand new company.

But soon after signing on to help the young lads, Wayne got skittish. One of the young partners was given to flights of financial fancy; meaning that he constantly wanted to spend more money on risky ideas. In other words, the youngster believed in himself and his product so much that he knew they’d get their money back and tons more. Later on, the same youngster took an extremely risky order from a company known not to honor their debts. He accepted the order because he believed he could overcome the risks and that the rewards would be far greater.

Wayne couldn’t handle it. Only twelve days into their partnership, he bailed out, demanding a pay-out of his 10%, which amounted at the time to just under $2500. His two young partners would continue on with their “risky” business dealings. Had Wayne found the courage, vision and belief in himself to ride the wave, knowing that he could overcome any obstacle, any hurdle, any outcome, he would today be a multi-multi-billionaire. His former partners were both men named Steve…Jobs and Wozniak; the company they created together was Apple; today worth $220 billion and growing.

Wayne’s story is told over and over again as a sympathetic tale, but it shouldn’t be. People should read about his stupidity and cowardice in text books as a lesson on what happens to you when you choose to live life by a “better safe than sorry” mantra; in the end the only one who’s sorry is you.

Reading an interview with Wayne is filled with loser talk;

            About Steve Jobs he says, “He became so enamored with succeeding at this stuff that he began doing it for the sake of itself. He began making money for the sake of making money. What can somebody do with $200 million that they can't do with $100 million?"

Only losers say things like that. Only losers believe that there’s such a thing as “enough success,” or “enough money.” The acceptable answers to the question, “what can somebody do with $200 million that they can't do with $100 million?” are as follows:

Twice as much
Whatever the hell they damn well please

But losers like Mr. Wayne are short sighted and don’t see life as it’s meant to be experienced. Someone worth $100 million sees an opportunity to double his fortune for purposes ranging from buying yachts to building orphanages, both of which enrich the lives of everyone involved in both processes. But Mr. Wayne sees only greed, never acknowledging the benefits of self interest. Mr. Wayne is a “good-enougher.” He goes through life saying “good enough is good enough.” Fair enough, but he will reap as he sows.

In the same interview, Wayne ranges from “refusing to second guess himself,” to acknowledging that his entire life has been “a day late and a dollar short.” Yet he never identifies what is so strikingly clear to those of us who achieve; he is the problem. His lack of courage, conviction and belief in himself has cost him dearly, and not just financially but also clearly in so many other ways.

He wastes away his life now playing slot machines; slot machines he used to design! He knows better than most that the chances of getting rich pulling the arm of a slot are slim to none, yet he continues to waste away mindlessly throwing what little money he has down a bottomless pit; it’s a shame…$22 billion could have paid for a really good psychologist.