Insubordination & Intimidation


In her mind, my place was in the seat.

In my mind, I had a right to stand up.

I don’t even remember her name, but I’ll never forget one defiant day I had in her class. We were studying a particular period of poetry in American literature and, after recitation of a famous poem, Sgt. Asshole solicited interpretations from the class.

Her: “Todd, I respect you. Do you respect me?”

Me: “No, I do not respect you.”

Her: “I expect and require you to respect me. So Todd, again, I respect you. Do you respect me?”

Me: “No. Respect cannot be granted. It must be earned.”

Her jaw kind of dropped and I left the room. I’m not sure if she learned anything that day, but if she did I hope she has forever kept clear the difference between respecting a person and treating a person with respect.


I was the only one in the class to write a persuasive piece on the Iraq War, and my side of the fence opposed that of Sgt. Asshole.

I received a C+ on this report. Was I graded fairly? You be the judge.

“Operation Iraqi Freedom”? All I remember is “Shock & Awe”

I’ve learned so many incredible things working at Apple. It is more than just an amazing company developing amazing products. It is an incredible institution.

I’m not a brilliant specialist.

I’m a mediocre specialist at best, and some of my more arrogant peers are likely apt to highlight this behind my back. But it’s no secret. In fact, I don’t have any interest whatsoever in being a brilliant specialist. That sounds really boring and risky to me, to be honest.

The R bud at the right time

If you’re gonna focus your attention on detail, how do you know which details deserve your attention?

The short answer: you either need to know or you need to be told.


Of the many corporate structures, I find two particular ones most interesting for comparison purposes: top-down & flat. Disperse the visionaries towards the bottom of the corporate latter and you can describe these two corporate structures with simple emojis:

💩 & 🤝

I’ve genuinely enjoyed the company and have genuinely respected the talents of nearly every person with whom I’ve worked at Apple. There are few exceptions. But I’ve noticed something about the exceptions. Something very important.

It’s not them, it’s them. [source]

I started my full-time professional career at Shure.

Prior to that I interned at both Shure & Bose. I learned a lot during both internships, as one tends to do. But one of the most impactful lessons was the importance of the people with whom you work. The culture at Shure was incredible, and presumably still is. I had two mentors during my internship - one whom I would later work closely with to develop MOTIV and the other who would be fired shortly before I started full-time. My manager while interning? She was awesome!

“Fuck with me and I’ll fire you.”

The sad thing was that it wasn’t just Mr. Mentor that bit the bullet. There was also some unfortunate collateral damage, including the termination of a great engineer that just happened to be working with Mr. Mentor. My former manager had also consequently been reassigned so that Sgt. Major Asshole could steal the reins from her.

I’m starting to feel like I’ve been pushed over the edge [source]

I’m so sick of Mean Assholes.

Anyway, to conclude this little jaunt down Memory Lane and glance down Elm Street, there’s a particular reality that has been haunting me lately:

Apple appears to not enforce its policy against intimidation, yet Apple can terminate you for insubordination.

Is this fair? You be the judge.



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