Recently, a friend sent me a link to a curious little historic curiosity, listed for sale on eBay. The item in question is an old Apple Computer coffee mug, specifically one from the old Charlotte headquarters. The mug is emblazoned with a strange series of letters: MIETDBWA.

Those letters still make me cringe a little bit, honestly. They stand for—you guessed it!—Making It Easy To Do Business With Apple. Back in the day, I had this mug—several of them, in fact—and all manner of other trinkets and paraphernalia carrying those same letters. I lived through the horrors of the MIETDBWA program, and when I look back on it now, I can’t help but beam at how far the company has come. (And by the way: I give the bulk of the credit for this to Tim Cook’s organizational leadership—but more on that in a moment.)

Tough Times at Apple Computer

To be frank: If you have to “make it easy” for people to do business with your company, you have some pretty serious problems. You have lost your rhythm, and you can’t fake rhythm.

And yes, way back when, Apple was in some trouble. Speaking just from my own experience: I was part of the Eastern division of the company, then the Southern, and then countless other reorganizations and reconfigurations. No wonder we were days away from bankruptcy. No wonder we thought people might not find it easy to do business with us.

The Apple Computer of the early 1990s simply wasn’t in a good place, and that’s exemplified by the fact that we needed to remind ourselves of MIETDBWA.

Turning the Corner

But things obviously changed. Enter frictionless business. Enter Tim Cook—a brilliant operations guy who saw MIETDBWA for exactly what it was, and—if I had to guess—probably killed the program the second he arrived on the scene.

Actually, I have no idea how the program ended—it just did, and the company was better off because of it. Fast-forward from the rocky 1990s to the Apple of today. The last million-dollar order I closed went through without a hitch; the product was custom built, shipped from China through Alaska via FedEx, and arrived on Monday following a Friday entry. It was frictionless. It was easy. We did it without having a MIETDBWA mug sitting by to remind us. Thank you, Tim Cook—and others.

Now expand from this little anecdote outward—to the millions of iTunes orders that have been processed within the last hour alone. Now you’ve got the makings of a global business leader: Rhythm Selling, leading to frictionless sales.

What About You?

To other business leaders, I would simply ask: Do you have a MIETDBWx program? If you have to remind yourself to make it easy for customers to do business with you, consider this: That selling and sales are two sides of the same coin—and that when Apple wasn’t actually selling, it was nearly out of business. You’ve got to be Rhythm Selling, which will lead you to become a sales machine.