Working at Apple isn’t a cake walk. Any former or current employee will tell you that point blank.
On a recent episode of the Debug podcast, ex-Apple managers Don Melton and Nitin Ganatra discuss the ridiculous hours senior-level employees are required to keep. Emails from executives in the middle of the night are commonplace, even on the weekends.
Ole Begemann transcribed part of the conversation between Melton, former director of internet technologies, and Ganatra, former director of iOS Apps. A lot of the back and forth echoes a blog post by Melton from last year in which he explains why he retired.
Don Melton: I wrote that blog post a couple of years ago after I retired about how Sunday is a work night for everybody at Apple.
Nitin Ganatra: Right.
Melton: Because it’s the exec meeting the next day. So you had your phone out there, you were sitting in front of your computer, it didn’t matter if your favorite show was on.
This was especially worse after The Sopranos ended because for a while there, you could count on the hour that The Sopranos was on that Scott [Forstall] wouldn’t bug you ’cause he was watching The Sopranos. And that was your reprieve. You could go to the bathroom, you could have a conversation with your family, you know, whatever. But after that—
And Scott was a late-night kind of guy. He was not a morning guy at all. You were basically on until, like, 2 o’clock in the morning. How many times do you feel you got emails from him at 1:30 or 2:00?
Melton: And by the way, when you hear the so-called apocryphal stories about Tim Cook coming to work in the wee hours and staying late, it’s not just some PR person telling you stories to make you think that Apple executives work really hard like that. They really do that. I mean, these people are nuts. They’re just, they are there all the time. I know that for Bertrand, certainly when he was there, you would never know what time of the day or night you would get email from that man.
Ganatra: I mean, he didn’t really make it a secret, either, that I don’t think he slept more than three or four hours a night, right?
Melton: No. And neither did Steve.
The two continue to discuss a “firehose of emails that are just going out at 2:45 in the morning” and “if you forwarded something to one of your people at 1 o’clock in the morning and they didn’t reply promptly, you got a little annoyed at them.”
They’re careful to not call Apple executives overly demanding, but the takeaway was that the top brass is definitely… intense.
Melton would say the following to wannabe managers:
When someone came into my office and said they wanna be a manager, I asked them, “How did you sleep last night?” And they said, “Oh, fairly well”. and I said, “Good, ’cause that’s the last good night’s sleep you’re gonna get.”