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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

The Steve Jobs Close


I’m assembling a number of closes we cover at our Boot Camp and in our training/strategic coaching. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a solid guidebook we can share with readers. Over the next few weeks I’ll publish a few closes to the blog. Most closes come from a 70 minute audio on closing I recorded last year.

The Steve Jobs Close is about closing at the highest level. Understanding this ‘close’ begins with a (likely embellished) story about Steve Jobs.

In 1984, Apple was looking to hire new CEO. The company was growing beyond the reaches of the young Steve Jobs. The board wanted some seasoned leadership for the journey ahead and they set their sites on PepsiCo VP John Scully. As the legend goes, the board spent two days talking with Scully about compensation, market segments, business plans, products, etc. At the end of two full days, Scully said, “thanks but no thanks” and turned down the offer.

Jobs, still looking out for the best interest of his ‘baby’, is befuddled at the board’s inability to close the deal. As the story goes, Jobs said, “Let me have a crack it it…”  and flew out to meet Scully. They went for a walk and Jobs asked Scully to share his thoughts. Jobs spent the duration of the walk just listening to Scully talk and when finished, Jobs turned to him and asked one simple question, “‘Do you want to sell sugar water to kids your whole life or do you want to change the world?”

Scully go it. He took job. He was CLOSED.

How it works:

The Steve Jobs Close is about closing at the highest level. As a For Impact organization, you are saving lives, changing lives or impacting lives. There are times when you just have to look someone in the eye and say, “Let me ask you one question, ‘Are you willing to help us change the world?’”

Unfortunately, Scully went to Apple and tanked it. That’s a different story that ends happily enough with Jobs retaking the helm and inventing the iWorld.

I love this story. I use it often. The Steve Jobs Close is really a story about closing at the highest level.

The board was mulling around with strategy and tactics.

People don’t BUY strategy (think: 14,000 ft). They BUY vision! They BUY purpose!

As Zig Ziglar says, “People buy on emotion and justify on logic.” Don’t lose site of this. You need both emotion and logic but sometimes we need to jump back up to the emotional hook or you can get lost in the logic.

A story from the field.

I was working with Junior Achievement — an incredible organization –- to fund a vision that included the expansion and renovation of a building. I teamed up with our board chair to visit with our very best prospect… the person we hoped would make the lead investment on the project.

On the visit, we started to get really deep into the minutia of one program. It didn’t feel like we were off course – the prospect was enthusiastic – I just knew there way to transition from talking computer terminals to teach kids ethics to an ask for $1M

I worked to reposition the flow so that I was able to move to a Steve Jobs Close. I said, “Mrs. Investor, being ethical is a decision and a commitment – we’ve made it and we’re not straying from it. [Long pause] Everything we’ve talked about today is about transforming Cincinnati and that’s the opportunity we believe we have with this plan in its entirely. [Pause] In that sense, I almost want to transition to a really high level question… to ask if you can help us with that transformation. If so, we’d like to talk to you about being the lead in that vision. “

This transitioned to a dialogue about leadership at $1Million. Mrs. Investor laughed a little (because I wasn’t as graceful as Steve Jobs). However, she felt the gravity and sincerity in what we were asking. After thinking for about 30 seconds she then asked us a series of very introspective questions and ultimately agreed to lead the vision… and lead it with a $1Million commitment.

The takeaway: If you find yourself lost in the weeds, ask yourself, what would Steve Jobs do? Move to a much higher level. Bring it back to the highest purpose… the highest cause…

  • Transforming the community
  • Ending homelessness
  • Saving lives
  • Reinventing healthcare
  • Changing the way education works in America

Note: As I write up real stories from the field I always alter little things – like a name, an organization or a city because I’m talking about real people and real funders. Though I’ve changed some names and places, the story really happened – exactly in this way.