I Quit: What Really Goes on at Apple

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs, June 12, 2005.

 

I’ve just escaped the Apple institution. I’ve sent in my resignation and fled down its bright white corridors curated by crass colourful pictures of iPhones past. I handed in my security pass and in return I was able to reclaim my creativity, individuality and free thinking from the secure Apple cloak room.  Finally now, for the first time in two years, I feel light, creative and inspired. I am again an individual with my own creative ideas, perceptions, values and beliefs. It may take me a while, but from what I believe – I’m now able to express such beliefs again.

I am no longer part of the collective  iCult machine whose dirty, worn-out, greasy and naive internal mechanisms of bullying, harassment and mind-games push out shiny and polished iPhones every year. I AM FREE. It is ironic that one of the world’s largest companies and one that prides itself on innovation, creativity and ‘breaking the mould’, operates on such soul limiting entrenched dogma. It’s an organised boys club where perception is valued over substance and tenure over talent. I spent two years in the Apple camp managing customer service improvement for their technical support contact centres and out of the fifteen plus years working in this industry I’ve never witnessed so many bizarre and unprofessional things, only some of which I have time to touch on here.

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Apple’s present-day mothership

I found Apple to be a sheltered workshop. The common language spoken being passive aggression, sarcasm and Kool-Aid fuelled stories of ‘success’ designed to manipulate and intimidate naive workers who have never experienced corporate life outside the Apple walls. Like the Chinese emperors believed the forbidden city in Beijing was the centre of the universe and constructed their empire around it, I’m sure that some people at Apple feel the same… Is it a coincidence that the new Apple Campus looks like a giant spaceship? Maybe the plan is for everyone to drink poisoned ‘kool-Aid’ before ascending to the mothership… Sounds like I got out just in time.

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The Forbidden City: The centre of the ‘known’ ancient universe
An artist's rendition of the new Apple 'Mothership'
An artist’s rendition of the new Apple ‘Mothership’. Centre of the Apple Universe

Even after-work beers were a strange affair. Drinks with colleagues revolved around the same stories told again and again as drunken management spoke of times when Apple executives made ‘strategic’ decisions to cut jobs and shut down Apple sites so swiftly and carelessly. Like boy scouts around a campfire, employees eyes would glow and twinkle at this notion of power and embrace these stories with awe but with utter disrespect for the actions Apple has on the broader community of contractors, vendors, resellers and business partners they have bent over a barrel of non-profitability. Remarks such as “… to make a decision that affects so many lives and so many jobs so quickly like that shows the sheer level on which they (Apple executive management) operate… Amazing” were common dialogue around Friday beers. In my opinion, a monkey can cut jobs, but at Apple the strangest things are revered.

At Apple HQ - 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California USA
Me at Apple HQ – 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California USA

Sixteen-hour days are filled with meetings after meetings followed by more meetings. Whilst this is somewhat standard in most organisations, meetings at Apple wreaked of toxic agendas designed to deliberately trip people up, make fools of the less respected and call people out. Team spirit is non-existent as ‘internal customers’ attack individuals and push agendas that satisfy their morning egos. Hours upon hours were wasted in meetings to prepare for meetings in preparation for other meetings to the point where little work actually got done. These rehearsals – called ‘dry runs’ (to me it sounds like something you’d pick up from South East Asian street food) – were meetings to refine impressions and push agendas… how to get the impressions right. How to bend, twist and polish data to tell the story you were instructed to tell… Not the reality the data presents. If a story can’t be forged, the data is excluded.

I had organised a day off recently where all my family were visiting me from interstate. Despite this, I had agreed to dial into one conference call as the audience attending was ‘important’. Well, it seems Important but disrespectful, as the audience never even turned up. I assumed I could then reclaim my day off and spend time with visiting family but instead, I was still made to ‘dry-run’ the whole meeting from start to finish for an hour and a half as if there was full attendance and interest in what I was saying. So, as the food I had prepared for my family went cold, there I was stuck on the phone role-playing a fake menial meeting to satisfy management’s ego.

Sickness, family emergencies, and even weddings are given no respect at Apple. When I started my role I missed one business trip as my wife was pregnant, fell down the stairs and had to be hospitalised – this was listed as a ‘performance issue’ on my record and brought up during a one on one with management as a major ‘miss’ on my behalf. Meetings at midnight were also common place where I was always asked to present something menial (again to be seen), however even then I wasn’t allowed to simply speak to my topic but instead I was fed scripts by management through instant message with countdowns included about how long I had left to speak (“1 min 30 secs left”… “too long…”, “wrap it up”…).

In recent weeks I contracted a nasty incapacitating mosquito born virus and was hospitalised for a short time. However, rather than receiving support, I was emailed a presentation to my hospital bed with a note that it needed to be completed ‘urgently’. Even on the very morning of my wedding I was still being harassed by phone and email to send a report someone had lost. Management were inconsistent, moody and erratic. I’d often receive aggressive chats at all hours, and harassing texts every fifteen minutes asking “are you online? Your status shows you as away – are you there?”. I received rude voicemails on my phone when I was one minute late to a meeting and was harassed about my ‘Australian work ethic’ with management out of Singapore even commenting that Australians are ‘unfriendly’ and that we ‘only like to work with other Australians’.

At this point, it all got too much and I was at breaking point. So, I reached out in confidence to an Apple executive. This respected senior manager  told me there was nothing to complain about and to “put on my big boy pants”. I was then threatened if I ever raised such issues again, it would be a “very different conversation” Words like ‘pressure’ kept getting thrown at me in the context of I can’t handle the pressure and “you were told at the interview it’s high pressure”. In reality, Apple is by no means the most pressure I’ve experienced in my career… Not even close.

My response was simple. I used to be a police officer. I’ve walked the beat of Sydney streets and been thrown into de-escalating many violent situations at a moments notice. Even prior to this I also worked for the Police ‘Triple Zero’ emergency call centre (Australia’s equivalent to ‘911 Emergency’) taking screaming phone calls from victims of crime and swiftly dispatching police units. So my point is; I’m no stranger to pressure and stress. Given my experiences, I’m not going to get too stressed out over call centre customer satisfaction results! Sorry Apple… Yet despite all this, it’s really quite simple.  Raising concerns about management and unfair treatment has got me nothing but retaliation from all involved.

Disgusting, Apple…. Disgusting.

Before I resigned they were clutching at straws to find a reason to performance manage me. However, all they could come up with were some missed reporting deadlines (which had been agreed on and communicated with management) and the fact that I had rescheduled some meetings… Seems a little desperate to me. Ironically, looking back – none of these items nor any of the stress and pressure were urgent… Not a single instance. All of it was deliberately manufactured mind games… I was told once that management spent a day deliberately dialling in late to all our conference calls for the whole day to ‘test’ who would ‘take the initiative’ to message them that they were late for a meeting?!? Very, very strange indeed but just another day in the life of Apple mind games that goes on behind the shiny, glossy ‘retina’ public display that Apple presents.

For a company that claims to enhance people’s lives through technology – they know nothing about life. Nothing at all. I’m disheartened as I loved Apple. I loved their products and I’ve been an advocate for what they allegedly stand for. Unfortunately, I’ve seen behind their glossy and polished stainless steel exterior, I’ve walked through their frosted glass doors and seen a toxic culture of manipulation, intimidation, threats and politics that are so incongruent to the values they preach.

As Steve Jobs said – Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Thanks Steve, I choose to follow your advice.

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NEXT: READ WHY I WROTE THIS ARTICLE AND THE RESPONSE I RECEIVED

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210 thoughts on “I Quit: What Really Goes on at Apple

  1. Good for you. You “put on your big boy pants” and chose to get away from the poison. It’s astonishing that people will put up with that abuse for any reason. Wish you the best of luck.

  2. Congratulations on breaking away mate. They sound like a group of weirdo’s. Hope you enjoy your new adventures.

  3. Congratulations on resigning. I’ve worked in toxic companies before and been either bullied by management or witnessed practises, procedures or processes that were just designed to manufacture. It’s not worth the stress.

  4. I termed it ‘corporate hazing’ a while back – working for google and a few other technology and media companies. It’s a social experiment an awful cult of sorts and the most boring work known to humanity. They are trying to distract you from all the insider trading and stock manipulation. You are brave to tell this tale.

    1. I work for Microsoft and can testify that the culture in MS is nothing like what it seems to be in Apple (as presented in the blog post) or potentially Google (by your reference). We do have a strict system of reporting and, as we are managed by scorecards, things can seem a little tedious from time to time. However, I feel that my colleagues (both locally and internationally, are extremely respectful and understanding and there is truly a sense of doing things together as a team.

      The tech industry can be tough because things are moving so fast and the expectations from the market are increasing everyday. But I feel that at least in Microsoft we do our best to cope with it while still being human beings.

      1. Microsoft is the same way. Don’t kid yourself. Right now you have been fully sucked in by their kool-aid and as long as you are willing to drink it you are welcomed. But the minute you question anything or forget to watch your back someone will throw you under the bus.

      2. I worked at Microsoft and I had many issues like this guy at Apple. Managment and teams were set to fight each other and cause others to fail. Many were arrogant aholes.

  5. Looks like an awful lot of toxic leadership and toxic management going on there. That’s what happen if you higher genius with high IQ but low to no EQ.

  6. All of the valley is like that and has been for decades. Every single firm. The tone and rythm differs among the various employers but they all turn into variations on *that*. (I think what mainly drives this is that intrinsically, the bulk of employees are confused wage slaves and nothing more. It can be a real struggle to survive in this area without those fat checks (and it can be hard to build wealth even with those fat checks). To turn your back on this system is a huge, difficult risk. To stay in it is to submit to the kind of S&M cult that emerges in those firms.

    As white-collar employees of those firms what are you? You are a ward of the state, fed by skimming high rents based on government granted monopolies. You are so irrelevant to actual production that they hire you and fire you en masse just to fake growth and make their books look good for Wall St. The people who do most of the work that puts food on your table are miserable slaves in Asian factories. The local blue collar society more or less hates you and you eat more “spit muffins” than you probably want to think about. And if you are a typical employee of one of these places and try to drop out you likely lack the survival skills to keep on around here.

    p.s.: The “start-up” system is not any better, it’s worse. It’s like the above but with far less income security. Basically, they hang out a false promise of the start-up system to trick young people into subsidizing R&D (with a high probability of losing their shirt and a low probability of creating any product to be proud of).

    1. The entire valley is *not* like that. I work for eBay/PayPal and the work/family balance is amazing. I have been doing the corporate America thing for 10 years, and I’m a single dad so I know a thing or two about handling family life. eBay is by no means alone in that category, as my bro works for Google and is doing fine. At my daughter’s school some of her friends’ dads work for Apple, and they tell a similar story of hard work, as the original author did.

      Again that story is far from being the “normal” in the valley. I think Glassdoor is actually a fairly accurate way of hearing employees reflect on that.

  7. I’ve heard this story so much from Apple employees. Hopefully more people will follow your lead and quit. The tech isn’t worth anything to me if the humans making it are suffering.

  8. I left apple as well. It’s a bunch of feared employees and managers. I wish, Apple never existed in tech world. World would have been a great place.

    1. I wish iPhone never existed. Look what happened small screen addiction at friends or family outings and gatherings.

  9. Highly glossed exteriors often hide a foul heart – with people as much as corporations. Look at Steve Jobs himself.
    Sounds like an appalling shithole to work in, though to be fair this seems merely to be par for the course when working for a large American company – similar reports have come from those who have worked for Amazon and Uber, amongst many others….

  10. Good for you! I never understood why the supposed prestige of working at a big name dot.com would be worth putting up with a toxic environment that destroys your psyche. Regardless of where you go or what you do, keep in mind you’ll be still be happier than any of your former coworkers, and that’s success in itself.

  11. Apple is too big for it’s own good. It’s like our government. There’s no oversight and a ton of wasteful spending. At least you will appreciate the next job you have that is hopefully a more positive experience.

  12. Good for you. I have heard similar stories. So many people die in China in those factories where Apple products are made. (no surprise) They do not care about people at all.

  13. more importantly, did you miss any of the world cup action because of this apple nonsense ?! ha ha !

  14. Well, this is a story I have heard all too often in the game industry and, of course, at startups. It’s news to me that Apple does this too, so thanks for sharing.

    The simple fact of the matter is that we, as employees in the technology industry, must simply refuse to co-operate with these abusive practices any more. A company which manipulates it’s employees through constant fear of losing your job, is doing it wrong.

    If you can’t solve a technical problem, well that is one thing. However, you should be able to work reasonable hours and your own time, evenings, weekends, and vacation are simply that, your own.

    What would happen if we, all of us, just simply refused to work obscene hours, weekends, or accept business calls during our personal time?

    Obviously a whole lot of people are consenting to this abusive behavior for no other reason I can tell, than because of fear.

    If you are a technology company which believes your employees weekends and personal time are sacrosanct, then get the word out, because you will get the best, most dedicated employees in the industry.

    I occasionally work long days or weekends, not because my employer asks me to, but because I am just that excited about the project I am working on. Meaning it’s my own choice.

    The next time your employee tries to threaten you with these abusive practices, “Just say no!”

  15. I actually work for a large-ish American company that is not like this. Sure, there are many of the usual Dilbertish problems, but competence and initiative usually are appreciated in the end.

  16. Its a tragedy that the corporate world has become so unprofessional, and so corporate executive pocket money driven. You are not alone, in reality about 50% of our nations college graduate professionals deal with the same issues in all markets in all cities, in all companies. Even small firms have the same issues today. As a structural engineer, I dealt with people even sending out drawings for construction with no engineering, then blaming me for not engineering them just so they can move up into a higher position. I also dealt with things such as slander from coworkers and bosses over the phone to colleagues and professional references. It wasnt always that way.

    One of the comments I got was “attitude”. I wasnt flambouyant enough and go drinking at happy hour everyday. It wasnt good to drink at 4 pm then have to go back to work to finish something in engineering. I also got a comment i didnt dress professional enough. I had been wearing kaki style pants with button up dress shirts and occasionally even wore suits. I was clean shaven, etc. Another comment was, you dressed to nice, to “stuck up” thats when I wore suits most days. Inwas suppose to wear jeans, boots, and a tee shirt, WTH in a consulting office, that didnt make sense.

    What our nation did since late 1990’s was move from a democratic republic free enterprise business environment to a nazi socialist work environment. We are all required to fit into the social environment of the company and of our co workers.. if we have just one thing different, a single man while everyone else is married, your ousted from the team, and the company. Some have gone to things like style of clothes, color of hair, and contacts or glasses.

    Welcome to the fourth Reich New world order…

    1. “from a democratic republic free enterprise business environment to a nazi socialist work environment.”
      This is where you’re wrong, it’s advanced capitalism that brought this “culture” into existence. Companies like Apple are very successful, so in the light of limited job availability, the free market seems to foster such behaviour.

  17. You have to walk away from the things that disrespect you. Looks like you did that. Good for you.

  18. If what you say is true, Apple will decline and will flourish no more, Just a matter of time. No company can be successful when it has such a toxic environment, as you picture it to be.

  19. on one hand tim cook is revered but on the other this company is just like any other. it uses tons of child labor in china and overseas markets (for its supplies – the kids mine these things out of the ground and caves). hypocrisy is part of human nature. that’s just how it is.

  20. I do not think that such a small thing like iPhone is worth all these employee-victimization and so on. What is iPhone -it’s just a phone. Think of it. It is not anti-gravitation device or it is not something of unbelievable technology. It is just fucking phone, guys.

  21. I used to date a guy who worked for Apple. He would put the conference calls on speaker so that I could hear. I experienced the Are you there? chat messages and watched as every day brought about a new “emergency”. These “emergencies” meant more conference calls, more emails, and more chat chewing up the time he needed to spend on the things that had to get done that day. Completely forget about any quality time when a new product launched. He barely had time to shower. I saw the workload. It can consume your entire life. Good luck to you on your next adventure!

  22. Wow, this is so true. I interviewed there (fortunately turned the offer down). Each of the 5 employees interviewing me NEVER stopped texting the entire time they interviewed me! The questions were rude and condescending, yet they offered me the position that day! Sooo, glad I am not there…

  23. I have to agree. I left working for Apple last December. First, the management at the store I worked for had so much drama that it was crazy. Customers kept coming back because their issues weren’t resolved. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories that they told about some of the customers there. However, the biggest straw was me attending my father’s funeral and I got wrote up for it. I was allowed only one day to grieve because they needed me for the iPhone 6 launch. I wouldn’t have mind…but damn, can I grieve over the loss of my father?Guess Apple doesn’t care about the well being of my mentality and family needs. Even when I have to tend for my sick daughter.

  24. I can totally relate and empathize with you. Glad you were able to find your way out. I was in a similar situation in a large financial institution that rhymes with “Shitty”. Was able to get out for good as well. Don’t have to be part of the indoctrinated corporate sheeple when you realize life’s so much more than that. Best to you.

  25. I have had this experience at 2 high tech companies in Silicon Valley. I dont doubt this stuff happened at Apple for one second. I have come to realize that I do value my friends, family, HEALTH and my personal time vs. what I call the martyr syndrome.

    I had one job at an HCM software company where it was expected that you work 7 days a week, and over holidays. There was a new employee hazing mentality, and employees felt important and smart by watching others flounder. It was a horrible condescending experience, and life is just too damn short. Meanwhile their product centers around how to manage people!

    All too often people, who have no business leading, are promoted because they are basically sociopaths, and the higher ups think they are sane capable people; but the truth is, they have no problem stepping on other people to get ahead. There needs to be more people in power who are sane, and can stop this pervasive leadership style in high tech.

    I am done, looking for work in a more suitable industry because no one on their death bed said that they wish that they worked more and saw their loved ones less before they died!

  26. Life in any large organization, public or private, is akin to living under communism. The incentives for each individual are almost exactly the same as living behind the Iron Curtain. Think about this. It needs to change.

    1. Actually that’s not true. I work for a university that employs nearly 20,000 people. Apart from the faculty’s faculty-style craziness, I find it remarkably humane – lots of understanding about family issues, more vacation and personal time than you can actually use, a general air of sanity. The money’s nothing to write home about, but the job security is great, and whenever craziness breaks out people generally figure out how to chill and deal. What’s necessary is leadership that values things like health and family. My own boss is spectacular in that regard, and in fact one of the goals she set for me this year is “stop working more than we’re paying you for”. Easier said than done, to tell the truth.

  27. Good for you that had the courage to say “enogh is enough”. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

  28. Google is no different, Bunch of ego freaks, manager has left the lab operations to 3 incompetent individuals. All Former Apple employees!

  29. Have you thought of posting your review of Apple, Inc. at Glassdoor? It would really help potential employees decide.

  30. It’s funny I used to hate Microsoft and Apple seemed the rebel but now MS seems sympathetic compared to Apple. Maybe every company needs a humbling now and then

    1. I think that’s a big part of it, for sure. Companies get high on their own supply – like any of us, I suppose – and it takes a serious downturn for them to suddenly realise that being accommodating and caring toward their loyal employees (an attitude that in itself builds loyalty) is crucial. Then the cycle begins again; profits roll in, managers seek further ways to reduce overheads and wring as much as possible out of their staff, and suddenly the company is an unthinking machine of war once again.

    2. You are right. This seems to be a cyclical thing with companies. I remember when Google was also considered the good guy and Microsoft, even Apple were the bad guys. At the end of the day, these companies need to make a profit and it does become a battle to dominate the market. Eventually the guy on top always falls down and the guys on the bottom come back up..well some of them. It doesn’t matter if its Apple, Microsoft, Google or anyone else.

  31. Having worked in a contact center environment 7 years (primarily in management positions) before starting with Apple 3 years ago, I can only assert my own experience that has been much different from your own. While I won’t jump into writing a blog about how amazing my own experience has been, I will say that my time at Apple has been most enjoyable. My only thoughts on this is that I hope you can find a company (or start your own) where your ideals and standards coincide.

      1. Right, and there’s nothing suspicious at all about a major Apple hatchet job being published on the eve of the Apple Watch launch. If you want to look for a money trail, start there… I’d have a lot more belief in this article if the timing were different.

  32. GREAT POST!!! A huge intimidation these types of companies seek to brand on their “victims'” minds is that they have enough power to scare us out of our right to free speech. It was extremely powerful for you to refuse to worship them by raising questions about what you were experiencing in that extremely HOSTILE (hostage) environment, but it was a demonstration of ALL OUT COURAGE AND REFUSAL TO CONTINUE TO SUBJECT YOURSELF TO THEIR ILLUSION OF DICTATORSHIP BY REMOVING YOURSELF FROM THAT TOXIC, CREATIVITY KILLING, HEALTH HAZARD location that they’ve disguised as a workplace.

    Every single thing you listed exist in a company I just parted with in Dallas Texas named AAFES which is so corrupted in its GOOD OLE BOY, nepotism filled, bully ridden, all depts in bed with each other (literally and figuratively), fear instilling, jealous of anyone who is bright and refuses to depart from operating with ethics and perpetrates itself as a “company”. Sad mistake to fall into such a place if you are a human being who refuses to work within these types of demeaning and debilitating practices.

  33. This post was re-blogged by a Swedish blogger I call a friend; so your message is worldwide.
    I reckon I’ll refer to it, too (I don’t re-blog because it fills up my media library).
    I’m somewhat biased, as I’m a PC person since forever; and Apple has never had any appeal at all. But what you say makes such good sense of the whispers one hears …

  34. This is common in all of corporate America. Apple isn’t the only one,I understand from one of my associates that that place has been toxic since the late 1970’s. A lot of my college buddies parents worked for apple and got the screw at 19 years and 6 months, lost their pension because vesting happened at 20 years. People need to choose their careers carefully and be willing to quit or get fired if they are in a bad situation. When you know that you know and you know the truth you are free. The egomaniacs are rampant everywhere. If you need a pay check find a place where you can manage the egomaniacs and do your own hobbies on the side to keep your sanity. The problem is that egomaniacs are notorious for being highly unproductive people and they use games to manipulate other’s, Learn their games so that you can fly under the radar. This rotting of the workplace will continue until something drastic happens. I quit buying apple products way back with the Apple IIe. Most of what they sell is older technology in a sleeker package anyway, and they simplify the user experience to be more “intuitive” but you can get the same and better results by working with other systems, for 20cent on the dollar.

    1. The New American Management Philosophy (or why American failed.) Though it looks like Apple is taking it to the extreme.

  35. Problem is almost all companies, large and small, subscribe to this management style. Tech, health care, media, doesn’t matter. They are all on this insane increased productivity kick and they won’t stop until we are all burned out.

  36. It’s not much different from the experiences I had working at some of Wall Street’s most prestigious investment banks. You are treated like dirt – and don’t believe the nonsense that everyone is so very well compensated. The big, greedy boys at the top take it all for themselves and if you’re lucky you might get a 1.5% raise even though the firm made 10 billion dollars in profit for the year. And for your quite average salary (believe me … we all aren’t making 6 figures or more just because we work on Wall Street) the bank OWNS you and you could be required to work at anytime without any time off for months on end. And it doesn’t matter if you’re on vacation, out sick, or even dying. Births. Deaths. Graduations. Weddings. Funerals. None of these things matter and none are reason for you to not be at work. And while at work you can expect to be yelled and screamed at. Ridiculed. Berated. Humiliated. Insulted. Called names worse than you were ever called when you were back in third grade! Even your mother is open to criticism. Corporate America…hell on earth!

  37. In the end all corporations care about is squeezing the last ounce of life out of their employees, and when one person cracks, or burns out, they just toss them aside and hire a shiny bright-eyed neophyte at a lower salary. This is standard practice in almost all large American corporations today. Long, long gone are the days of a company having any loyalty to their loyal and hard-working employees. Isn’t capitalism grand? Progress!

  38. So what do you 70,000 people do at Apple anyway. Same phone every year, same app launcher OS. I kind of figured 65000 of you wasted time. No offense to you.. you were probably right for leaving.

  39. When corporations get this big and out of control, they attract narcissistic psychopaths who will do anything for power and money. We see it literally everywhere.

  40. I’ve been solely loyal to Apple since I was 5 years old. That was almost 30 years ago. However, that is only in reference to their products, and my confidence in those has even begun to waver lately. Unfortunately, this post about there treatment of employees doesn’t surprise me. It certainly disappoints me. Too often this becomes the case, especially with companies as big as Apple. I wonder if it is the difference between working for a rapidly growing company and market-leading one. Apple still leads many of these markets by a large margin, but the lack of innovation lately makes holding that position uncertain. Which can lead, in part, to unreasonable expectations of employees. Though I could be completely wrong. Maybe its always been this way. I know that Steve Jobs fostered a toxic work environment before he was eventually forced out. I wonder if he was any better the second time around.

    If they keep up the lack of innovation and mistreatment of employees like this, in addition to their P.R. problems over their manufacturing practices, it will only be a matter of time before they fall victim to the complete collapse that they almost suffered before Steve Jobs came back and saved their asses.

  41. I once had an opportunity to work at Cupertino in a Director level role, and experience provided a sense of the culture you described. Though this was the pre-iPhone era, and people there were still pulling off some amazing feats given the lack or resources and various legacy decision impediments.

    Organizations evolve from organic self-forming teams up through pseudo cross-functional systems. What you have described in reference to holding meetings in preparation for other meetings, and selectively using data to support a position, is symptomatic late stage maturation of an organization. Once a tech company employs beyond the 5,000 people threshold, productivity, via culture shift, starts to slow down. When Apple hit the 100K mark in headcount, I knew the Good ‘Ole days were gone. I can say the same about Microsoft when they went past the original 5,000 headcount, and even IBM if you go way back, but I digress.

    Point being, it really does start at the top, and sooner or later the top does indeed change, and so too will Apple’s culture

  42. Just the fact that they would make comments on your Australian background is unlawful discrimination. If they were harassing you then while human resources is the obvious first, but intimidating choice there has to be another method of dealing with harassment and discrimination in the workplace as some of the things you describe is exactly that… Illegal discrimination in the workplace as well as illegal abuse of power. Seriously while it is not worth it to fight them do not just let them walk all over you as it will just happen to the next person even if you try to make people aware like with this blog here.

  43. Are you really surprised though? Even at the small company I work for, my managers regularly get called at home, surprise weekend work, and a “no excuses” mentality, regardless of what happens. Ultimately, when you’re operating at a high level of a company, all that matters is getting the job done. No excuses.

    Now Im not saying our owners are anywhere as cruel as your managers. Im sure our owners would not force anyone to work from the hospital (or anything close to that) – but my company only employs 100 people. And our revenues are less than .05% of Apples’. In spite of this though, our owners still have quite a huge ego. I would expect that to be the case for most Silicon Valley companies; and not without reason: The people that manage these companies ACTUALLY built them, they didn’t inherit them.

    That being said, I can only imagine how big the egos of the big-wigs at a large corporation like Apple are. Which is why Im not all that surprised that this goes on at Apple.

  44. “Like the Chinese emperors believed the forbidden city in Beijing was the centre of the universe and constructed their empire around it.”

    Totally NOT what the emperor who built it thinks. LOL

    1. So what is the ‘Meridian Line’ and why do the history books speak of “The Meridian Gate was so named because the Chinese emperors believed that they lived in the center of the universe, and the Meridian Line went through the Forbidden City.”

    2. Yeah, “Bei” as in Beijing means ‘north’ so it was not really the center, but you get his point, Zhong guo (“China”) means middle/center empire, and the forbidden city has concentric circles. Cut him some slack.

  45. And that happens when one measures happiness with or by the company one works for…wake up…life is practical.

  46. Wow! I live in Santa Clara a couple of block from the Mothership’s runway (Pruneridge) and a realtor was telling me my modest house would now sell for $1,100,000. Given that these are the kind kind of people that are moving into the neighborhood and that a company that screwed up can’t possibly survive I strongly suspect it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge!

  47. Your experience at Apple holds very many similarities to many corporations. My personal experience has been primarily focused in the financial sector (Bank of America) but your comment of toxic agendas to stroke overinflated egos is all to familiar. I too left that depressing, soul sucking, ground hog day of a job and have never been happier. Creativity is rarely used nor recognized in companies such as BofA and by the governments label of “being to big to fail” the old ways and methodologies continue to perpetuate.

    1. BofA????? BofA literally has no right to exist. 100% saved by taxpayer bailout and they didn’t event thank us. Oh if justice is ever served, BofA will burn to the ground first.
      -rufus

  48. I believe you. I worked on the telesales intranet and was teamed with people in austrialia and cork. Overall, it was terrible. The ONLY good thing was the money, but that gets diluted with so many overtime hours. Additionally, the execs (I only interacted with up to the VP level, never SJ) were insanely egotistical. As you said, they made knee-jerk emotional decisions to close sites and lay people off, only to hire more people later and never speak of their prior decision. It was a pretty nightmare place.

  49. Same shit is going on with ExxonMobil, bunch of Young & Arrogant college grads being hired and, with lack of experience are running the management team…good luck to that!

  50. after all i’ve been through: i work alone now.

    interesting read, can’t say i’m surprised though. straight out of college, i took a job as an it consultant for one of the largest firms in the business. saw a lot, both internally and on assignment at other large firms. sounds like typical big business to me: a lot of politics, internal competition, waste, and meetings lol. i remember one of the last guys i worked with (a client’s employee who had gotten out the business himself), i asked him what made him leave, the answer: “it was just such a hustle”

  51. I could realize You are not telling the full story, please let other readers to fully evaluate the working environment, what did you learn? did you learn more or less when compare to your prior employers? Was the team made of capable and smart employees or a bunch of losers? Has the company a succession plan, or they do not have the resources to keep succeeding? Is it good to mention you worked at Apple in your CV?

  52. I absolutely agree, remove yourself from such toxic environment before it affects you mentally and physically.

  53. Hilarious. I used to work for Procter & Gamble, and they have a similar mentality. I never could figure out what many people actually DID there. It seems to me that the Charmin keeps selling no matter what the jerks who work there do.

    Funny enough, though, the biggest prick of a boss I had was a guy who was just begging to work at Apple. That was his “dream” job.

    Maybe he knew he could thrive in such a place.

  54. I used to work at Apple 5 years ago. My overall experience, after 6 month I just wanted to leave. It was a big desappointment .

    This company doesn’t have any respect for the employees. I remember in a general meeting to announce the result, they were telling us that without us Apple couldn’t have 40 billion dollars in the bank, and as a reward we will get a nice salary increase. Well the salary increase was 1%, that’s all.

    I didn’t have family life, working 24/7 and as your case I had a situation where I was hospitalized and I needed extra time off to recover after I was released from hospital, this was denied.

    In that year, Apple hired in the Supply Chain group 10 people. They made them to relocate, one of them came from Chicago , he was let go four month after he started. His wife resigned to her job in Chicago. The other nine, including me, were let go within 7 month of being hired.

  55. As others have said, this is corporate America, no different today with the poor economy than it was in the 80s with the great one. Bullies will bully, and get away with it when they hold your job in their hands. Use your smartphones and nanny cams and post these pr*cks where others can see them. Only many, many lawsuits will ever put an end to this climate of fear.

  56. It’s really interesting reading the blog post, my guess all companies on the top doesn’t care because they think thousands of job seekers lined up to fill in the role who can be manipulated and absorb all company politics until they break free. I also came from the biggest cloud provider Amazon and this same bullshit happen there too. just imagine, christmas party on February.

  57. Fcuk Apple. They are going down soon. And this Senior Manager you confided and trusted with? I hope you meet him on the street and give him a punch in the face.

  58. This somehow doesn’t surprise me. I started buying Apple products around 2012 with Iphone 4s. The charging cable only lasted about a month before it seemed to start falling apart. I also had other problems that I now know are common among the iphones (touch screen not working, charging ports going bad and antenna not working right). I didn’t realize it at first. I eventually bought a Macbook Pro in 2013 that I still owe over $2000 on and I bought a 5s but it got stolen. Got my 4s fixed and recently it keeps “searching” for a signal so my son let me borrow his old 5s (with a broken camera) to use as a phone and for my internet as a hotspot. I have had problems with all their products and after doing some research I found out these are known defects. Apple tried to tell me that I spilled water on my Mac (which I didn’t) and said I needed a new logic board and magsafe connectioner. Turns out I didn’t need either. I saved a lot of money by buying a new hard drive (their standard one is crap) instead of paying Apple $800 to put in a new logic board and magsafe. I wish you would blog about the quality of their products and Apple’s knowledge about these known defects and any ways they try to screw the customer with their inferior products or by selling them stuff they don’t need or telling them the usual stuff which isn’t true. After this 5s craps out (the charging port is already showing signs of failure and the signal totally sucks), I am going with an Android that gets better battery life. If this Macbook craps out again.. I may go back to Windows.. Apple is definitely on their way down and there better not be any government assistance to keeping them from failing. Companies that fail need to fall on their face. It’s the only way they will learn.

  59. In management’s never ending quest to be more productive, they become more and more unproductive.

  60. Steve Jobs was Narcissist Number One, and set the tone for everything Apple has coming to them, sooner than you think.

  61. I think you missed a trick, the blog post should have been titled “iQuit” rather than the more prosaic “I Quit”.

  62. I’ve learned that organizations of all kinds have two distinct, and usually diametrically opposing, forms of behavior. Manifested behavior is the image the organization portrays to the marketplace, and latent behavior is exactly HOW an organization runs itself. This is a prime example. I am sorry you went through this.

  63. Home Depot is the same thing. I left their corporate tech support after 7 years with no job lined up first. That’s how bad it was. It was more important to get my sanity back than to wait. Corporate doesn’t give a hoot about the stores or the paying customers at the stores. They only care about numbers on reports.

  64. You should look for a job with United Health Group. They have a culture of Integrity (honor commitments and never compromise on ethics); Compassion (Walk in the shoes of people we serve and those with whom we work); Relationships (Build trust through collaboration);
    Innovation (Invent the future, learn from the past);
    Performance (Demonstrate excellence in everything we do) that has been adopted from the top down. Every employee goes through 3 full days of education on the topic and then 100s of culture ambassadors help maintain that environment. People who don’t want to follow it — from senior execs to lower level employees are managed out.

  65. Basically, what ppl here are saying are two things, one, working for corporate America sucks. And then two, don’t work for some “prestige” company … instead, be in some licensed profession like Patent Law, Medicine, or outside of that, a Prop Trader. And thus, you have some more control over your time and energy.

    1. Or work for a small / medium sized private company that is not dictated by the market. Many times these types of work environments are more agile, flexible and definitely more family friendly.

  66. I am in academics at a big state level university. You can easily earn in the order of $100k – $150 k if you are at a senior professor level with less than 0.01% pressure of what you explained.

  67. Corporate America sucks. All decisions are made by spreadsheet, without even understanding the ripple effects of said decisions. Concall after concall to discuss concalls. Working only toward some stupid metric that means nothing and is usually unattainable. Management afraid to make waves, for fear of their jobs. Band-aid problems, but do not fix the root cause.

    And if I hear another manager say: “Were lucky to have a job.” I think I will scream. No, asshole, your lucky I work for you, because I am damn good at my job!!

  68. As so many here have already stated in oh so many words, welcome to the World of Corporate America. Doesn’t matter the sector, the corporate mindset is the same everywhere. Micromanaging employees and finding scapegoats is much easier than doing the work involved in figuring out what works for the particular company in question, what does not, and how to fix problems.

  69. Wow, appreciate your efforts. Was in your shoes for long when I was in Apple customer care applications design and support. What a waste of time. People do not have basic ethics. I am not sure why many of these corporate so called humans born on earth. And I always wander what kind of family life they are having and what kind of next generation they are growing? What a shame on these guys. Indeed I noticed people do not brush teeth properly, do not take bath, smelly mouths, do not know what is mouth-wash but have BMW, Acura, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes or some high end car. Talk about only color badge.

  70. I experienced the never-ending meetings at Microsoft. I’d spend 8-10 hours in meetings, head home and spend another 3-4 hours completing my work. I’d get to the end of the week and felt like all I did was attend meetings. I too had managers who texted and emailed at all hours of the day. I walked away from the job and found a more balance life. I hope you find the same.

  71. To me this is not surprising, I would expect any big company to have some of the same work environment behavior. Where I work, a computer tech giant itself, definitely does have some of this work culture described in this post in some departments within the company (fortunately not the department I work at, at least none that I experience). Companies that I’ve interviewed with, like Microsoft and Google, I felt could also have a work culture described in this post so I didn’t further pursue a full-time job with those two companies.

    In general, I think you either:

    A. Get lucky and find work in a department in a big tech company (Google, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Apple, Cisco, etc) that does not experience this type of work environment behavior described in your post

    OR

    B. Just don’t work for these big companies at all. Go work for the small to medium sized companies where people don’t have to do some this politic’ing/micro-management/work-game junk to justify their existence in the company for a raise. If enough people avoid applying to and working for these big companies, they will either be forced to change their work culture or die off like the dinosaurs.

    1. I got lucky…I work at a huge IT corp (caesar cipher +3 “K S” and you can guess it) but my team does situation management for some GIANT airlines. So, I can go a week or two without doing any actual work. It’s the best job ever, but I also worked here on the help desk for external clients and that was NOT fun. I never really socialize with any work people outside of work…

      But all that crap is insane, I hope you had a good salary to put up with all that. No one does that to me, but I would just not respond and say “Oh, I was off shift” if they ever actually said anything about it later lol.

  72. I have worked for Apple for over 2 years (still do), but in the engineering and would like to tell you that I have seen very little, if any, of those negative things the poster described, yet i have no reasons to doubt his truthfulness as Apple is a big company and many department or even larger teams may have different culture.

  73. This is typical for most large highly successful corporations. Granted the creme at the crop probably can be the worst. I’ve realized over my years as a working adult its much better to work for a small to medium sized company and more specifically one that is “private”. Publicly owned companies become slaves to earnings. Making a profit is no longer enough with public companies who trade on the exchanges. They need to show increases in earnings even if the profits they make are “good enough”. This pressure mixed with ego leads to a caustic work culture. Some people thrive in that type of environment.

  74. Many of the commentors here would be much happier running their own business. I sure am! My experience with egotistical management and high school like drama among peers started at Jack in the Box ( no joke ) and ended with working a few years for Albertsons ( pre strike ) 18 years ago, and almost 5 years for a financial services firm run by two guys that ended up declaring bankruptcy years after I went out on my own. It was sickening when you bring in tons of business and they hire all their family members to sit on their butts. You just have to play the game ( when you are young, hopefully not when you’re old ) and pray like heck that a new purpose, a new door will open for you. I work in financial services and all my clients are my boss. I’m to the point now where I’m pretty selective on what clients I take on. Soooo much happier now!

  75. Interestingly I can relate to you on the points you mentioned; however, I am not surprised because it seems there are many corporations like that our there. My company is even voted as one of most ethical companies 2014!!!

    The “meetings after meetings”, and “meetings to prepare for other meetings”, yeah… It sounds ridiculous, but tt happens all the times… I am moving from one position (the office kind of job) to another position (to work in plant / factory to manage engineering / technical and quality issue) to run away from it, but in the end I still cannot escape them. Cannot do much during the day, so when I get home I have to stay work to mid night, 1-2-3am almost daily.

    The culprits: these people are trying to justify their existence so they will set meetings / reviews to try to help “you” to help them… 🙂

    Sometimes I am tempted to my boss and bosses that the way they will help me is to have less reviews with me, and let me do my own job.

    Fortunately, I had not experience the constant IM harrassements that you experienced, but this does not mean there is none. So it is up to you / each of us to decide what battle we will pick and fight. The instigator will instigate until he runs into an unexpected response that forces him to change his behavior. Just make sure we know the fight we pick to go thru, and the consequence associates with it, and our own fight skills!!! Good luck with your next corporate job!

    1. This is the internet. People often skip past the article to post ignorant comments based on what they assume from the title. There’s an article about a politically charged topic from a few years ago that intentionally put a misleadingly slanted title, then midway through insisted that anyone commenting mention “banana” to prove they had actually read the article before posting. The comments went seven pages before it was mentioned.

  76. I found this common in a lot of companies within any industry. I originally thought the high school drama and egotistical management was not normal in any company. Hence, I kept jumping from one company to another only to realize the same things. I found after many years of jumping around that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s all about the money in the end. If you got compensated well, then I will just battle it out day in day out like a warrior. If you didn’t get paid well, then I would have walked away easily. Salary is important because you want enough money to retire early or to go start your own business.

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  78. Very good article, kudos for writting it. Work conditions should be known to potential future employees. The problem is in the leadership of that branch or business unit. Great minds think alike. So do petty ones. Great leaders attract, grow and inspire great people. Monsters breed and surround themselves with monsters. If you are not acting as a monster, but choose to ignore the monsters’ deeds around you, are you better than those monsters ? Isn’t almost the same as doing that deed yourself? So again, great job for writting the article, it proves you managed to protect your inner values !

  79. I worked as a contractor for Apple at there Maiden, NC Data Center for almost a year. I was like you highly disappointed. Was constantly told in our morning meetings that we were basically replaceable didn’t matter to them and threatened to loose our jobs at a moments notice. Management wouldn’t answer questions on anything answers would always be “Yes” in a sarcastic tone even when the question couldn’t be answered in a Yes/No kind of way. Contractors were pond scum. During there “Celebrations” in the break room we couldn’t even go in to get a drink of water (to cool down from working in 100+ Data Centers at times) as we weren’t invited to attend. Actual Employees would get prizes all the time and they would make sure every contractor was around to see this as we were never eligible but they wanted us to know they got it. We couldn’t even put we worked at Apple in our Resume or Social Media. We could only put “At a Data Center in Maiden, NC. In the end I took a job with a significant pay cut just to leave the poisonous environment.

  80. Being a contractor I can relate to not being apart of a “family”, and being made to feel left out of a team or company.

    I believe these sorts of behavior are the results of parental issues,and not being raised to know what is wrong / right, how to give appraisal for good work etc..

    Being the age of 26 I can only wish I had a team to manage, that I could support give appraisal for good work, motivate and reward them for hard work and treat a team as a family, and ensure everyday they come to work was enjoyable and rewarding.

    It’s really not hard to see, that treating people well will give you 100% more productiveness in a person, as opposed to being in a toxic environment, being bullied and harassed for a job that really doesn’t change the world or make life changing decisions.

    “Better to live a short life doing what you like, then a long one spent in a miserable way”.

  81. your story RE: the dry run meeting on vacation does make sense. why would the food have gone cold/family been neglected? you had agreed to meet and expected it to be a legit meeting, so the time should have been allotted already, dry run or no. i do not doubt they are over the top, but tat anecdote doesn’t make your case well….

    1. The lunch plans were made after finding out an hour prior to the meeting that there would be no audience attending. With no audience, common sense would have assumed that the meeting would be cancelled so I went about to continuing my planned day off. I did not expect a call from my boss to still conduct a one to one rehearsal for almost two hours. Ironically the planned meeting never went ahead so the whole exercise was in vein. This however was a typical and regular occurrence at Apple.

  82. Excellent decision , i landed up with similar situation and walked out from a telecom company with out a job being lined up . I am seeing life very positive now after my 2+ years held up, like the saying “time is limited ” and we should not regret later once it is passed.

  83. I work for a large office within Congress. The House of Representatives specifically. While the meetings about meetings seems ridiculous I can assure you office politics and walking on egg shells around superiors exists beyond Silicon Valley and is alive and well on a particular Hill in Washington, D.C. And we don’t even get free lunches!

  84. Wow. I knew Apple was screwy but this is beyond insane.

    A couple of years ago, a client of mine got fed up with Windows XP and decided to migrate to an all Mac platform. He had close to 2 decades worth of information on his system – and the contact manager he found could NOT import the bulk of it. Why? Because the database included in OS X is incapable of importing information from anything other than a CSV file Which is ok, if all you want is name, address and maybe a few other basic text fields. But all of the notes – emails, completed history items, scheduled activities, and such – those would have to be left behind.

    Great. I got 25,000 names in my database, but I have NO idea WHY they’re there, what I’ve done for them in the past, what I need to do for them in the future.

    The client eventually gave up the idea of migrating to the Mac because of this.

    Ironic, because Microsoft got that part right. You can convert any database into any other database without too much effort. And Apple has the balls to say they’re BETTER?

    Maybe if they dropped all the snark and really sat down and focused on what they’re doing, they might actually catch up. Somehow i doubt that they will.

  85. Between Walmart, Scholastic, a certain midwestern college with a cult fixation on Winston Churchill, and a number of state offices, I have experienced a lot of bad management over the years, but nothing quite as bad as what you describe at Apple. It does, however, fit with a certain managerial mindset I’ve witnessed – the idiocy that lower-level workers are “exploiting” the company’s compensation. It’s the mirror counterpart to the mindset that higher-level employees are overpayed and underworked.

    I’m glad you were able to overcome it and leave, I know I’ve felt trapped in jobs with bad management before and didn’t prepare to leave until I finally broke.

  86. Unless Apple has another iPhone/iPad type boom soon, they’re going to be having massive layoffs and then this sort of thing gets REALLY fun.
    In the end, you’ll probably find that all these hoops people have to jump through is mainly to keep them in top shape and doing busy-work for when there IS another boom. Last thing you want them doing is sitting around bored.. they lose their edge.

  87. This is the story of many people, make your choices right at the moment so you don’t regret later. In search of fame or money, you will always be hungry because it does not feed the soul. But being with your loved ones will make you feel alive. We never take the money in the bank account or other material thins with us when we die, but memories of being loved ones still goes on.

  88. Very convincing writing. When you work for someone, you are in fact living someone’s dream already. So your dream has to fit in to your employer’s dream otherwise you need to give up your dream and believe in your employer’s dream or pursue your dream.

  89. Just a question: exactly how long did you worked at Apple? If I read your post correctly it was at least two years, which seems incredibly long given the work environment that you just described.

  90. *sigh*

    Tighten the reigns, individuals lose freedom, creativity, and individuality.
    Loosen the reigns, corporate loses its control.

    I see it, I don’t like it, but I don’t know if there’s any other way to have an effective system. Things Roll Downhill.

    I wanted to work at Apple in my 20s, but I never did.

  91. Excellent job, Mr.Ben Farell! It is only we people who are feeding such big companies. More than 50% of the employees working for such companies have the same opinion as yours, just that they don’t have the guts to speak up boldly. Wishing you the best in future endeavors, rock on! \m/

  92. I like nomadic_rambler. 🙂

    Corporate life is cut-throat. Apple is not about to become the first trillion dollar company by being nice. So what I read in the original post doesn’t surprise me. However, the same might be true for other organizations as well. That is not to say it is good or acceptable, but it is probably reality in some or many cases.

  93. Yep, sounds like a big corporation. Large law firms operate the same way. It’s unfortunate; but, it’s how things are done, and it’s how these large, successful corporations maintain their positions at the top. Nothing short of perfection and excellence will do. Been there; done that. You either suck it up, or you can move on. I moved on, and I’m happy to see the writer moved on, too.

    1. That’s very true exabs4! And it’s exactly what I wrote about in my article yesterday: ‘How Delusions of Normality Suppress our True Feelings’
      Quote from the article:
      “So, then why is it, when we get to the workplace this all goes out the window? All of a sudden our values and beliefs about unacceptable behaviour gets parked and suppressed as we revert to our early school-yard selves and accept this behaviour.”

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