The Mac just turned 40. Perhaps it’s a good time to reminisce why 1984 was not like 1984.

Here’s an image of the team which built the original Macintosh, one of the most consequential pieces of consumer technology.


Developing the Mac took three years of long days, all-nighters, lost weekends, take-out food, and near constant fatigue punctuated by rare thrills when tough technical challenges were solved.

This is what peak performance looks like.

Unfortunately, this kind of performance culture is rare. There’s is a new status quo today like in the 1984 ad. It’s called mediocrity, and it needs to be broken again because every year will be like 1984.

Mediocrity is like a plague. It comes in many forms and it is easily transmissible. These forms include things like: DEI, internal politics, activism or simply just 0 ownership.

All of these can be attributed to the lack of focus on what really matters. In most cases it’s building a great product or service while relentlessly chasing a well defined mission.

When it comes to the transmittion itself, it’s about who is getting hired, who gets fired and what is tolerated. When an all star team hires a mediocre person, its culture becomes infected. When the tolerance for bullshit becomes normalized, the team will not sustain.

On the other hand, the performance culture is hard to build and requires an immense effort to maintain, especially with the scale.

So what is the performance culture? It’s the 100% alignment and laser focus on executing a well defined mission. It’s the self-policing team with 0 tolerance for bullshit or lack of ownership. It’s the founders gatekeeping mediocrity, internal politics and activism. It’s the hiring process screening for merit not the color of the skin or gender.

This is what’s necessary for moments like the Mac in 1984. It’s not just the consumer tech, it’s about creating better and healthier lives with prosperity for everyone.