Making mistakes has been profitable for Apple

One Infinite Loop, Apple’s street address, is a programming in-joke — it refers to a routine that never ends. But it is also an apt description of the travails of parking at the Cupertino, California, campus. Like most things in Silicon Valley, Apple’s lots are egalitarian; there are no reserved spots for managers or higher-ups. Even if you’re a Porsche-driving senior executive, if you arrive after 10 am, you should be prepared to circle the lot endlessly, hunting for a space.

But there is one Mercedes that doesn’t need to search for very long, and it belongs to Steve Jobs. If there’s no easy-to-find spot and he’s in a hurry, Jobs has been known to pull up to Apple’s front entrance and park in a handicapped space. (Sometimes he takes up two spaces.) It’s become a piece of Apple lore — and a running gag at the company. Employees have stuck notes under his windshield wiper: “Park Different.” They have also converted the minimalist wheelchair symbol on the pavement into a Mercedes logo.

Jobs’ fabled attitude toward parking reflects his approach to business: For him, the regular rules do not apply. Everybody is familiar with Google’s famous catchphrase, “Don’t be evil.” It has become a shorthand mission statement for Silicon Valley, encompassing a variety of ideals that — proponents say — are good for business and good for the world: Embrace open platforms. Trust decisions to the wisdom of crowds. Treat your employees like gods. (link)

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