Steve Jobs resigned last week. This is likely not news to you. But what is interesting is it likely will cripple the consumer electronics industry.

Spending quite a bit of time on the speaking circuit, I constantly hear from leaders that they’re afraid to use the web for business reasons because they don’t want the competition to know what they’re doing.

A Page from the Apple Book

The consumer electronics industry is built around copying the successful products that Apple produces.

When the iPhone came out, there were copycat touch-screen phones on the market within months. Apple blazed the trail.

The iPad created a tablet category that didn’t exist two years ago and now every mobile company on earth is building one. Apple blazed the trail.

Amazon, Google, and BlackBerry now have app stores. Apple blazed the trail.

Microsoft opened 11 retail stores this year. Apple blazed the trail.

Blaze the Trail

Apple also is the most wealthy company in the United States. They have more cash than our government. And they blaze the trail for their competitors.

They aren’t scared of the competition figuring out how they do things. They blaze the trail.

Read what Om Malik says on his blog, GigaOm:

If you want to change something, you have to be patient and take the long view. If Apple and Steve’s incredible comeback teaches us something, it’s that when you are right and the world doesn’t see it that way, you just have to be patient and wait for the world to change its mind.

Today, we are living in a world that’s about taking short-term decisions: CEOs who pray to at the altar of the devil called quarterly earnings, companies that react to rivals, politicians who are only worried about the coming election cycle and leaders who are in for the near-term gain.

Taking the long view is hard work, especially in today’s world. Letting our competition peek into our minds, our companies, and our R&D is scary.

Wouldn’t you rather blaze the trail than try to keep up?

But How?

Last week I quoted Jeff Jarvis and how he thinks we’re moving to a jobless future.

A future without jobs because, as leaders, we’re waiting for the economy to rebound so we can fill spots that have been vacated in the past three years.

A future without jobs because, as leaders, we’re afraid participating on the web is going to give our secrets to our competitors.

A future without jobs because, as leaders, we’re afraid to blaze the trail. We’re afraid of doing things differently. We fear change.

So buck up! The only way we’re going to help the economy rebound is to take a page from the Apple book … and learn from Steve Jobs.

Don’t be afraid to let the competition know what you’re doing. You’ll be looking forward and they’ll be scrambling to keep up. Blaze the trail.

This first ran as my weekly column in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich