Ready, Shoot, Aim – expert advice from an Apple Director
University of Southampton alumnus Chris Broad has launched the game-changing products of technology giant Apple in Europe over the past two decades and is the company’s current Director of Contracting and Briefings for the continent. Last week, he returned to Highfield Campus to outline the entrepreneurial ethos of ‘Ready, Shoot, Aim’ for Future Worlds’ new Mentor Masterclass series. Watch highlights from his talk in the video panel above and read on for Jon Nurse’s blog from the event. This article’s quotes have been generated using the Synote University spinout transcription tool.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
The words of the great Renaissance thinker Michelangelo beamed down on a young entrepreneurial audience as Apple Director Chris Broad settled into an early rhythm for his Mentor Masterclass address.
“You’re going to achieve much more by aiming for something that might seem impossible,” he explained. “At the very least, you’re going to end up higher than you would otherwise. It’s always served me well to have an eye on where I want to be in three, four or five years’ time, and that would be a good aspiration for all of you too. Be scanning your options, getting out there and attending events like this to work out what fits you today, what might fit you tomorrow and where you might be in the future.”
Chris started his career in an engineering training scheme at Mars Electronics after studying Electronic Engineering at the University of Southampton. Having next broadened his corporate skills at the INSEAD graduate business school near Paris, he joined the promising tech company Apple shortly after the launch of the Macintosh II. It was the start of a fruitful career in marketing, sales and strategy for the business giant which has now lasted an impressive 27 years and seen him rise to the rank of Director of Contracts and Briefings in Europe.
Flicking through slides in a modern setting above the University’s vast Mountbatten cleanroom complex, he explained how the global business landscape has vastly changed during his career, adding how “the technology ecosystem has become a very interesting and exciting place to be”. Chris is dedicated to helping tech startups succeed from his former student home and turned to a catalogue of business tips to set them going on their journeys.
Looking to the example of his former chief Steve Jobs, he started, “strive for simplicity in all the work that you do. Find something you’re excited about and go into every day believing you’re going to do something great.”
One clear quality that Chris underlined must be a fundamental characteristic for any aspiring entrepreneur is that they must be a team player. Reaffirming an emphasis that had first been drilled into him within the corridors of the INSEAD business school, Chris outlined that positive team working skills would help ideas flourish through good communication, listening and presentation techniques. “I’m absolutely convinced that three people will come up with a better design and solution than a person working by themselves,” he said.
Chris also asserted the need for entrepreneurs to be trusting. Recalling a professor’s anecdote from a past networking experience, he reflected on the story about how graduates responded when asked whether they would take advantage of a customer or offer a fair deal when granted the opportunity. “The older the people were – and the more experience they’d had in their career – the more people were saying that they’d offer a fair deal,” he explained. “The older and wiser people become, the more trusting they are in a business sense. They know that if you don’t choose to be fair, then it’s probably not going to work out for you in the long term.”
Talk quote – the world is getting smaller
“It’s important for your generation to be open to the world. I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends are now in China, Hong Kong and San Francisco. The world is getting smaller.
“It’s now so much easier to interact with people around the world. You could maybe take some time to do some travelling. Spend six months somewhere at this time in your life, it’s not a big amount of time when put in the context of your whole life.
“Keep networking – both now when you’re at university and later as you move forward in your career. It’s such a good thing to be going to events and meeting people, you’ll learn a lot more than you will by reading books. It will help you find out what you want to do and develop skills for your career – and your life.”
Finally, Chris’ parting piece of advice for his listeners was don’t procrastinate. Drawing upon a principle to ‘Ready, Shoot, Aim’ from Tom Peters and Bob Waterman’s strategy from the bestselling book In Search of Excellence, Chris insisted that it is crucial that business founders always make sure they’re moving forward.
“I think too many people spend their time thinking and reading,” he explained. “The answers are not in a spreadsheet with all kinds of numbers. It’s much more important to get going and correct your trajectory later as you’ll never be able to aim perfectly because you don’t have perfect information.”
The Future Worlds Mentor Masterclass series will continue next month with the Ministry of Sound’s Lohan Presencer. Visit the Future Worlds Engage section soon for full details.
Read more about Chris’s experience and find out what he can offer aspiring University entrepreneurs on his Future Worlds Mentor profile.