Ron Johnson on Apple’s transformation:
I remember the day we opened our Soho store. How many have you been to the Soho store, lower Manhattan. That opened on July 17th, 2002. It was a day after Macworld. That’s when Apple was kind of at the bottom and Steve had really worked hard with myself and a few other people in this room to design that Soho store. We were really proud of it and it was a day after Macworld. I made the decision to open at 8:00 a.m. thought that was kind of a good time open a store. It turns out nobody in lower Manhattan was up at 8. Steve came over to the opening and he was kind of not one of his better moods. Most of the time, he actually was a lovely guy, very upbeat. And there were about 50 to 100 people in line for an Apple store opening in Manhattan. At that time we didn’t believe could we make money. Steve and I talked about a half hour. He said, you know, nobody cares. There are days I feel like just giving up. Nobody cares. He had read all the reviews from (Walt) Mossberg and David (Pogue) in the New York Times. He said nobody understands what we’re doing. Nobody cares.Sometimes I just want to give up. And he said maybe the store’s not going to work. I said all right. Steve got in his car and went back uptown. He was staying at the Four Seasons. I was stuck with the store so I had to stay. About 11 Soho started to wake up and people started to come and we had a person at the door. Traffic counters. From 12 to 1, 1,000 people walked through the door, from 1 to 130, 800 people walked through the door. I said Steve, you’ve got to come back. He says I don’t want to come back. Steve drove down. He actually arrived around 1:30. If you’ve been in that store there’s a glass bridge behind the Genius Bar you can stand on. It was actually really hard to design that in a lot of ways. Steve and I stood on that bridge at 1:30. He didn’t leave the bridge until 8. Six and-a-half hours. He immersed himself in his customer, what he loved. And we went to dinner at and talked about it and Steve kind of got back in the game.
Even the best get discouraged. Inspiring.