How Apple Mastered “The Non Apology”

Posted on September 2, 2010


Governance, specifically corporate governance, has turned into a fine art form. Looking back at the economic crisis of yesteryear, I’ve found that we have come a mighty long way in this great skill I call, “the art of the non apology”. Many have tried it but many have faltered.

It occurs more than once every 50 years, from Wall Street honchos of Goldman Sachs to incontrite congressmen and national leaders, those who have attempted and failed have invariably chosen to resign and ultimately utter the four letter “s” word- I’m sorry. For these men, it’s too late. For you other elite types, there’s no better person to emulate- Steve jobs and even this leading innovator learned from the best.

While you were fondling brand new iPhones and iPads, I spent my time watching and reviewing the Apple Antennagate press conference. He’s not a master yet, he’s still accountable to shareholders, but he’s close. Here’s what I have learned:

When you point a finger... well, you get middle fingers back

Never say sorry

Remember, it’s never your fault if you don’t say it is your fault. This is cardinal rule number one, never apologise outright.

Always make comparisons

When you’re the world’s best, there’s no one else you can benchmark yourself against. Always pick the worst competition you can find and point out all their flaws. Remember, when everyone else has a problem, it’s no longer YOUR problem.

Practice reverse empathy

When critics start pointing fingers, shrug and throw the spotlight on them by “meekly” pointing out your history of excellence and track record. Nothing says “this critic is a jerk” more than someone trying to crucify you over a single mistake.

Blame someone else

Just as there are two sides to every story, there are two sides to a problem- victim and the perpetrator. You should pick your role early and go on the offensive. “You’re holding the phone wrong.” or “You were complacent.” are good options.

Be magnanimous

Nothing is more satisfying than the coup de gras of a non apology. Be the bigger person; offer a freebie iPhone bumper-case, vouchers or a cash rebate to whiners and complainers. It makes you look noble and you’ll come out on top, every time.

All resemblance to other people and places is purely coincidental; it’s your fault you assumed otherwise.

This article first appeared in the September issue of August Man. Jonathan Ho is the editor for He enjoys style and the finer things in life. Jonathan enjoys it but doesn’t really afford it. Donations welcome.
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