Have you heard that aphorism? I prefer the corollary: “He who dies with the most toys is still dead.” Life isn’t about how much we accumulate or how wealthy we are while we’re here. Life is about the fleeting moments we have in deep connection with others and a practice of gratitude – that’s where the real meaning and happiness lies in a life well lived.
What triggered this outburst of philosophy on a compensation-oriented blog? I’m inspired by Tim Cook’s memo to Apple employees upon the announcement that Apple became the first corporation ever with a $1 trillion valuation. Cook’s memo didn’t trumpet the monetary value of the company, the value returned to shareholders, or even the value returned to individual employees. No, he put the focus squarely on the people of Apple who made such a historic triumph possible.
Here’s his memo in full:
Today Apple passed a significant milestone. At our closing share price of $207.39, the stock market now values Apple at more than $1 trillion. While we have much to be proud of in this achievement, it’s not the most important measure of our success. Financial returns are simply the result of Apple’s innovation, putting our products and customers first, and always staying true to our values.
It’s you, our team, that makes Apple great and our success is due to your hard work, dedication and passion. I am deeply humbled by what you do, and it’s the privilege of a lifetime to work alongside you. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the late hours and extra trips, all the times you refuse to settle for anything less than excellence in our work together.
Let’s take this moment to thank our customers, our suppliers and business partners, the Apple developer community, our co-workers and all those who came before us at this remarkable company.
Steve founded Apple on the belief that the power of human creativity can solve even the biggest challenges — and that the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. In today’s world, our mission is more important than ever. Our products not only create moments of surprise and delight, they empower people all around the globe to enrich their lives and the lives of others.
Just as Steve always did in moments like this, we should all look forward to Apple’s bright future and the great work we’ll do together.
Nearly two dozen times in that brief memo, Cook focused on the people behind that success – the people of Apple as well as the people of the greater Apple community. He knows that without the people doing the work, there would be no success.
Wherever you are in this moment, at work, at home, running errands, take a moment to pause, look around you at the people with whom you likely most often interact. Reflect on how they enrich your life. Practice gratitude. Tell them “thank you.” Let them know the difference they make in your life. Celebrate life.
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is a leader in the WorkHuman movement and the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.