My work with Apple
Felipe Andres Gore
Apple Retail Specialist
2017 - 2019
As an old user, admirer and student of the Apple brand and culture, I knew this could be a good platform for me to get some local exposure and try to add some value to a global company. So after selling my own business and without many options or contacts in this new context, I decided I wanted to work for Apple and try to make a difference in the retail sector. This opportunity would also allow me to understand the local market and meet up some people. After so many years trying to seek attention to feel valued as an equal professional in Australia, I though this could be a good opportunity to start attracting attention and amplify my message of inclusion and diversity. So I just developed my own marketing strategy, using the same principles Apple uses In theirs… word of mouth, I promote you, you promote me.
Thus, my personal goal in this role was to exceed expectations and lead by example from the bottom up, in order to raise the standards of customer service, inspiring others to achieve best results as a team and become the best Apple retail store in NSW.
My second and long term goal, was to make myself a recognised professional in both, my local community and at my workplace, because I have a public service vocation. I genuinely want to help as many people as I can, that is my goal in life and I think that makes the whole difference, because it is not about me, it is about others.
So, In order to exceed expectations I had to overexpose myself and challenge the culture in order to positively disrupt the system, putting all my passion into work to inspire others and connecting with different levels of management and executives.
But leadership is not easy and we often get misunderstood and misjudged by people who do not understand the intent, specially when we are not in a position of power. Because let’s face it, in order to lead we assume someone has to be in a position of power. So this behaviour that was perceived as an “act of provocation” for some, also generated three different responses:
1- Upset some people, generally under achievers… “He think he is better than us”…
2- Confuse standard performers. Why he does more? …What does he want?…
3- Inspire leaders, high achievers and main influencers, “We need to do more”
In this context (under pressure and strong opposition from senior management) my personal mission in this role was to apply all of my skills and experience to inspire high achievers and main influencers.
In a smart and healthy culture, like Apple where anyone can lead and assumes positive intent, putting an extra effort and doing a little bit more that is required, is generally seen with good eyes, so in theory that would trigger a positive response, specially among high achievers who are the main influencers and the ones who officially lead performance in the team.
So I just used my passion and leadership capability “to be the change I want to see in the world” and give always my best effort showing my willingness to learn from everyone in order to contribute to the shared vision of the company and make a difference within the team. Because I honestly believe in what we do and If I believe, I can make others believe too. Not with words, but with actions and actions speak louder than words.
However I was aware this behaviour could have a negative response from part of the team and I have to admit that at times I provoked situations in order to create a conflictive perception about my personality and generate discussion among the team. It was a fine line and a risky move, but I needed to create a “calculated conflict” for a few reasons:
1- To generate a cultural discussion, because I think this is the way we can clarify intentions, make distinctions and settle differences.
2- In order to give some perspective and crystallise Apple values and philosophy among the team. “inclusion and diversity”.
3- To make it obvious enough that I was trying to achieve something, so we both keep a record. Because I knew that probably my work was going to be minimised, overlooked, taken for granted, and even denied… as it did.
4- Because I wanted to get some attention beyond Apple, to make a clear statement and try to create a ripple effect, in order to improve some policies at a regional or national level… As I mentioned to one of the managers, I’ve done this before, at a governments level.
So I developed a relationship of trust with key allies and people I respect (line managers) to create a communication channel with senior leadership at all levels. I also left some notes and feedback in the internal communication channels in order to keep a record of my intentions, whilst releasing some tension to ignite top down coaching.
After two and a half years Apple Charlestown achieved 12 new Ovation awards, (not a minor fact considering they just had 1 in 8 years) and while I am aware these awards have been achieved by the talent and the effort of the whole team and thanks to the Apple culture, constant coaching, and systems in place. I believe my contribution has been to be a catalyst for change, inspiring others and raising the standards of customer service by:
1- Leading an active approach to customers.
2- Adding flexibility and a sense of urgency.
3- Providing complete solutions for customers.
4- Developing a personalised style of relationship with customers and “apple family” members. Creating emotional connections through my creative work, active listening, respect and honest care. Giving humanity to a technical job.
5- Helping to foster a “creative team environment” by presenting ideas and pushing the boundaries.
While these traits are not reflected in one but many specific actions and a constant basis of natural behaviour, they became my normal self and I assumed this as part of my personality. The only way I can describe it, is just like a challenging personality with an emotional capacity to connect with people at a personal level without looking for anything in exchange, because my mission is to serve others.
This behaviour also helped to ignite synergy and momentum amongst an excellent group of people; creating a sense of pride, embracing, facilitating and reinforcing the culture and philosophy of the company; empowering others (if he can I can), creating a positive environment of healthy competition and job mobility within the team. This is what I call a two ways passive coaching.
In line with the culture of personal initiative and open communication, I offered my help and support on several occasions in different areas such as business, environment and social programs...
I exposed some areas of opportunity such as the improvement of the "Easy pay" system, the “trade in” process and the "unconscious bias issue". I also contributed with numerous ideas shared with managers, executives and the Internal comms system, including a community engagement strategy a free global technical education and a social- business integration program.
Apple retail Specialist 2020 -2021
That was my job until the end of 2019 when we achieved 10 new Ovations awards, which was my personal goal. Since then, I’ve been just doing the best I can within my specialist role and focusing on my family and my long term goal. (Except for the business integration program which was acknowledge and rejected in a brief note by someone in the heights).
1- I think Covid change my priorities, I realised that my work was not going to be acknowledge or understood (as usual)… and decided to focus in my mental health and family life.
2- I realised that I was not getting any response when offered my help and I felt blocked at some stage of the leadership chain and that was affecting my self-esteem. While I understand that sometimes this could be a test of character and personality, I also think that sometimes is better to wait to asses the options with a clear mindset and give some time to reflection.
3 - I also realised that the leadership style was not much about a long term team vision, but about personal short term goals. Thus, instead of recognising collective vision they are more inclined to recognise specific individual goals and actions, personal achievements and long service, which is very aligned with American culture. The only issue with this is that some people tend to focus more on their own gains rather than in the collective achievements, team spirit and customer experience.
So why am I looking for a different opportunity?
Because I am a professional, I have three different higher education degrees and have shown this with facts over the past 4 years of consistent top performing sales and customer service experience… and even though some people try to put me down (as usual)… the facts are there and the truth always prevail.
I have also mastery of Apple products and services, in store and on line as well as third party solutions across different industries and fields. I have knowledge of the use of Apple technology in business solutions and industry trends such as real estate, creative arts, social sciences, environmental, cultural and educational services, among others. I am a global citizen and a well informed person, capable to talk about many topics and my curiosity takes me to different fields on a daily basis.
I am an effective communicator, capable to connect and collaborate with people at all levels. I can develop clear, compelling and persuasive messages and presentations. I have the skills and capacity to create a vision and purpose, as shown above. I have the passion to inspire others and the persistence and resilience to achieve my goals. (Masters degree, Australian citizen, my own business, Apple, 10 ovation awards)
I am a highly intuitive and analytical individual capable to sense outcomes before they happen and connect with others (the audience, the public, large masses) at a deeper level. I am an open minded person capable to develop links and connections at a higher level. I am intellectually and emotionally smart. I am authentic, natural, creative and original. I am calm, balanced, mature, sensible, empathetic, reasonable, reflective, humble, friendly and down to earth. I have good judgement, common sense, a heart of gold and the capacity to think by myself.
I also have the courage to challenge a culture and push the boundaries within the purpose and values of the company, city, country, etc, presenting projects and ideas to upper level executives and management. According to the Apple values “Team spirit is essential to Apple’s success. Individuals are encouraged to interact with all levels of management, sharing ideas and suggestions to improve Apple’s effectiveness and quality of life”.
Overall, I have Integrity and I am motivated by principles, values and ideas, not just for money. I think I have the capacity to influence and nurture people. I see myself as a leader, helping others grow and become the best they can be. But I understand that in order to do that I need to start focusing on my own development and after all …
I think I deserve better…
To be honest I did not have expectations or ambition to further my career at Apple. Over the years I have learned that we often get disappointed by our own expectations and I did not want to get hurt. I still think I can do and give more and I did not feel understood when I shared my vision, so I was ready to move on, because I also need to earn more money and that is the cold reality. I have a family to support.
But after giving some thought I realised that I love Apple, because it gave me the opportunity to be myself, help others and clarify my mission in life. I also feel very connected with the culture and the philosophy of the company. l feel a sense of belonging and purpose here that I haven’t felt in any other place before and I am finally being treated with the same respect as I treat others here in Australia… after a while though, so thank you very much!
I also feel that I am not working just for money but for conviction and that makes me feel important. Here I connected with my service spirit and I honestly work to enrich people’s life and not necessarily to get a better role.
Finally, in my opinion, true service spirit is not much about personal gain, but about others gain, customer experience and long term collective goals, and that is also what leadership is about.
Please feel free to share this to whom it may concern.