How Do You Get Hired at Apple? Don’t Cover All Your Bases.

“Be yourself” can seem like risky advice in a competitive job market. But you know what’s riskier? Being nobody. Ken Segall explains how he became an ad man for Apple. 

What’s the Big Idea? 


You know that little ‘i’ that’s in everything from iPod to iCarly? Ken Segall came up with that. The “think different” campaign? Ken was a big part of that, too. He worked closely with Steve Jobs for 10 years, and as the creative director of advertising for Apple,  was instrumental in defining the brand’s aesthetic of stunning simplicity. 

How do you get there from ad school? In Ken’s case, by ignoring all of your professors’ good advice. Diversify, they told him. Build a portfolio that shows off your range. But after six unsuccessful months on the job market in New York, Segall decided to try a different strategy: totally geeking out. He was passionate about videotape (a new technology at the time), so he created twenty different fictional ad campaigns about videotape. Suddenly he was getting job offers from tech-focused ad agencies, including the company with the Canon camera account. 

Successful salespeople say it’s easiest to sell a product you believe in. What Segall did was to refine his mission. He loved the creative challenge of advertising, but his interests didn’t end there. So why limit his professional identity to Advertising:General? By applying his talents to content he cared about, he created ads that immediately announced him as the right guy for the kind of job that was right for him. 

Ken Segall, longtime creative director of advertising for Apple, on doing work you're passionate about. 

What’s the Significance? 

“Be yourself” can seem like risky advice in a competitive job market. But you know what’s riskier? Being nobody. Once you’ve got a grasp of the professional etiquette of your trade (e.g. don’t show up for a job interview on Wall Street in a tie-dye t-shirt – or maybe at Apple in a business suit...), the way to stand out among those stacks of resumes, and to get the job you want, is to highlight the work that you love to do. 

Everybody knows these are tough times. And maybe you’ll decide to game the system a bit – to sell yourself for a job you know you’re not right for, as a stop-gap measure until something better comes along. That’s one approach. But more likely than not you’ll find it a costly detour in terms of time and energy, and one that leaves you five or six years down the road back where Ken Segall started – trying to figure out where your talents and passions really lie, and how best to express them.

What's the best piece of advice you've heard for getting started in a tumultuous job market? Take our poll and find out what fellow Big Thinkers think . . .

...also, some surprisingly relevant career advice from Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter


 

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less