Jobs, Apple and Krav Maga

(By Abe Novick)
In Krav Maga (Israeli self-defense), I learned the principle of “position before submission.” In essence, if you are not positioned properly, all your efforts to fend off an attacker or multiple attackers will fail and you will either be hurt badly or worse, perish.
To apply such an extreme example to business may seem melodramatic, but at a time when many businesses and worthy organizations go under due to the fierce economy and a flattened global onslaught of competition, the analogy is all too applicable.
If you’re a business or an organization, in order to survive in a sea of rivals, where getting your audiences attention is harder and harder due to an always on world of e-mail, cell phones, text messages and “friend” updates, your first job is to carve out a position from which to enter your audience’s mind.
That’s right their mind - because, it’s more important that you tell your story there and that you exist there, than anywhere else.  In a world of media clutter, with eyeballs glued to iPads and ears plugged to iPods and mouths chattering on iPhones, to reach your target inside there, you’re not just competing with your business competitors, but you’re competing with, well, everything.
To do battle in such an environment, one must have a solid position to enter, maneuver, defend and be nimble from.  
It’s more than a little ironic that I make mention of Apple’s products here, because the very company that’s driving you to distraction, is also the very same company that has profited most by expertly positioning itself in that sea of noise.  In 2005, before the there was a market crash, two stories appeared simultaneously in the Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. economy appears to have lost steam” and “Apple’s profit surges more than six fold.”
In the next 5-years Apple’s stock tripled.  
While it remains to be seen what affect the departure of Steve Jobs will have on Apple, his influence and its story is nevertheless historic and prescient.  Apple, which launched the “Think Different” mantra in 1997, essentially zagged, when everyone else zigged and became the world’s most valuable technology company.  They demonstrated the power not just of technology, but of a unique positioning that not only helped it through an economic crisis, but also made it thrive.
To do this, Apple the company, didn’t broaden their Apple brand but rooted themselves as the innovative technology company. At the same time, they branched out and created different brands.  In turn the Apple tree grew, as its fruit the iPod, iPad and Macintosh blossomed.
Each one of their products became a brand in and of itself.  No one was buying an Apple anymore, except at the produce department.  Instead Apple evolved and filled the many holes that existed in the consumer’s mind by finding and offering new and innovative products.  But what you may not realize is many of their innovations simply evolved and maneuvered by taking already existing products and making them better.
Apple didn’t create the smartphone.  They eliminated the keyboard on the smartphone and used a touchscreen, even though touchscreen technology had been around since the ‘70s.  Likewise the iPad is a tablet computer that had already been around, but Apple eliminated the stylus pen.
Just as a fighter looks for an opening to punch through and a baseball hitter looks for the hole in the field, so does a successful Jewish organization.  
In a crowded marketplace, those holes and openings may seem harder and harder to locate and find, but once they’re discovered, it’s sometimes hard to believe no one ever found them before.
But perhaps that’s why great ball players, victorious fighters and disarming people like Steve Jobs, can make it all look so easy.