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Are You Gonna Do It?
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Date: February 1985
Characters: Burrell Smith, Steve Jobs
Topics: Management, Quitting
Summary: Burrell quits Apple, but fails to live up to his threat

No matter how much resolve you could muster, it was still difficult to quit Apple if Steve wanted you to stay. You'd have to sit down with him for a reality distortion session, which was often effective at getting people to change their minds. One day, a few of us were talking about strategies to overcome Steve's persuasiveness.

"I've got it!", said Burrell. "I know the perfect way to quit that will nullify the reality distortion field (see Reality Distortion Field)."

Of course we wanted to know how he could do that.

"I'll just walk into Steve's office, pull down my pants, and urinate on his desk. What could he say to that? It's guaranteed to work." We laughed, thinking that not even Burrell would have the guts to do that.

A year and a half later, it finally was time for Burrell to quit, after months of scuffling with Bob Belleville and some of the other managers, who wanted to cancel the "Turbo Mac" project (a redesigned, faster Mac based on a semi-custom chip, with an internal hard drive) that Burrell was working on with Brian Howard and Bob Bailey.

Burrell told Bob Belleville (who was probably relieved, since he knew that Burrell didn't respect him) and the human resources department that he was quitting, and then made an appointment to see Steve that afternoon. When he walked into Steve's office, he was surprised to see Steve grinning at him.

"Are you gonna do it? Are you really gonna do it?", asked Steve. Somehow, word about the urination threat had gotten back to Steve, and he was genuinely curious if Burrell would go through with it or not.

Burrell looked Steve in the eye. "Do I have to? I'll do it if I have to."

Steve's expression gave him the answer, so Burrell turned and walked out of the office, no longer an Apple employee.

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