The Expert Trap - Selling Apple Stock Edition

Do you know the story of Ronald Wayne, Apple’s third co-founder?

He knew Steve Jobs from their time together at Atari. And when Jobs and Woz started Apple, Ronald became the third co-founder and owned 10% of the company. 

He owned that stock for all of 12 days before he got cold feet. He thought that Jobs and Wozniak were just two crazy kids who might take on a lot of financial obligations that he would be responsible for. He had more assets than either of his co-founders and he let the fear take over.

Ronald sold his 10% interest in 1976 for $800. That stock would be worth over $100 Billion today 😮.

But this isn’t where the story ends. Ronald did it again in 1990! That year, he was cleaning out his filing cabinet and sold the original contract for the creation of Apple for $500. In 2011, that document sold at auction for $1.59 Million. 🤦🏻

Ok. So what’s going on here and how can we use some epic questions to help us avoid Ronald’s fate?

Ronald had legitimate fears. He wanted to protect himself. But he didn’t need to completely leave the opportunity in order to reduce his risk.

He could have asked:

1. Can I limit my financial exposure without selling ALL of the stock? Could he have sold back a portion of his stock in exchange for protection from any of the company’s liabilities?

2. What is an experiment I can run to see if this is a good decision? The moment he got spooked, Jobs had taken out a $15,000 loan to buy supplies to fulfill Apple’s first contract with a San Francisco computer store. Ronald was worried that this store was known for failing to pay its bills and Apple wouldn’t make money on the contract. Could this project have been an experiment Ronald could have afforded to take?

3. Who can I consult for a second opinion? Ronald could have sensed that he was having an emotional response to this situation, and thought, is there a handful of people I can speak with who might help me make a better decision or figure out how to reduce my liability?

Ronald Wayne's story is a powerful reminder to look beyond immediate fears and to recognize the potential of patience and vision.

Here's to making decisions that our future selves will thank us for! 🌟

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