Are You Smart Enough To Know The Future?

Ronald Gerald Wayne is a smart guy.  He understands life and the range of its possible outcomes.  If you don’t know who he is, you can be forgiven.  A carefully crafted survey of all the people who work within 25 feet of my office door revealed that no one knows who he is.

Ron Wayne is in the “Could Have Made A Better Decision” Hall of Fame.  Right there with Pete Best, Art Garfunkel, the HP exec who didn’t hire Steve Jobs because he had not been to college and Mike Smith and Dick Rowe of Decca Records UK who decided the Beatles had no future.  “Not to mince words, Mr. Epstein, but we don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out; four-piece groups with guitars particularly are finished.”   OOOPS!

Despite his entry in the Hall of Fame, Ron Wayne has lived a complete life.  Some would argue that it could have been better but that is hindsight.

He has done many things, but for purposes of this article he did three noteworthy things:

  1. He drew the first Apple Logo
  2. He wrote the Apple I Manual
  3. He wrote the original partnership agreement among the founding Apple partners.

He is the third Apple founder.  On 1 April 1976, he owned 10% of Apple.  On 13 April 1976, he traded that 10% for a check in the amount of $800.  Later in the year he received another $1,500 to relinquish any further rights he might have.

One could reasonably argue that $2,300 for 10% of Apple is too little.  After all, 10,000,000 times your money investments are uncommon.

Whether it is a good or bad decision now is not relevant.  The important question should be “Was it a bad decision at the time?”

I say no.  From Mr. Wayne’s position, what he did made perfect sense. Here’s why:

  • He could not contribute to the technical side of the business.
  • The business was so new there was no way to estimate its future.
  • The business, to be successful, would need to compete with older, more established and wealthier companies.
  • He was the adult in the room, but “the Steves” were high energy, hard to control people.
  • He had already been involved with a business that failed.
  • He had assets.  Apple then, was a partnership.  A partner is personally liable for the debts incurred by the partnership.  If things had gone bad, he could lose everything.

So he sold.

Does he regret it?  Maybe sometimes, but his spoken words are, “For me, it was the best decision given the information available to me at the time.”  Good answer!

Ronald Gerald Wayne is a realist and a wise man. There should be a statue of him somewhere.  He is not the common man.

None of us can make “guaranteed to be right” decisions that are based upon information we do not yet possess.  The reality on any given day is “Tell me the future and I will tell you what to do.”

Try to keep that in mind when you review your own life and its decisions.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

4 Comments on “Are You Smart Enough To Know The Future?

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