Tim Cook's Apple-style Part 2

By Tony Clark, 2-Dooz Inc. – January 14, 2013 (Original Publication Date)

In a 2-Dooz Strategy Talk article published a couple of months ago, I discussed how Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is quietly, but purposefully tweaking the culture at the company to insure that Apple remains relevant for many years to come.  It can be argued that Cook has moved so decisively, during his short tenure, because of the advice he received from Steve Jobs just prior to Jobs’ death.  In a rare interview, of Tim Cook by Brian Williams, late last year, Cook disclosed Jobs’ advice: “Never ask the question what Steve would do? ...  just do what’s right.”  This is but one of the nuggets from the interview.

Fair or unfair, comparisons between Cook and Jobs are to be expected.  And, regarding such, much has been made of the differences between the two.  Instead of covering the same ground, I’d like to take a look at the two from a different perspective.  What I’d like to focus on are some of the key similarities that rang true to me during the interview.  Both are absolute sticklers for product detail.   This was clearly demonstrated when Cook examined the contours of a MacBook Air, which was on display in the Apple Grand Central Station Store where the interview took place, and later during the interview when Cook explained, “Our expectations for ourselves are even higher than our customers’ [expectations].”   Like Jobs before him, Cook is incredibly secretive when it comes to Apple’s product directions.  In response to questions regarding the rumored Apple TV, all that Cook would offer is that “it’s an intense area of interest.”  And, though stylistically different, Cook, like Jobs, is fiercely competitive—adding during the interview, “We love competition at Apple … it makes us all better.”  Moreover, an animated Cook opened the interview with a warning both to the competition and to Apple's critics: “Don’t bet against us!”

Other key insights from the interview to Tim Cook’s Apple are as follows:

  • Apple shrouds its product plans in such secrecy, because, in Tim Cook’s words, “People love surprises.”
  • Regarding Apple’s philosophy, Cook explained, “Our whole role in life is to give you something you didn’t know you wanted … and then once you get it, you can’t imagine your life without it.”
  • And, with respect to staying on top, Cook noted, “[At Apple,] we focus on making the world’s best product and on enriching people’s lives.”  And, added, “We have to make sure at Apple that we stay true to focus—laser focus.  We can only do great things a few times … only on a few products.”

As I said last November, and as reinforced during the Brian Williams’ interview, I like what Tim Cook is doing at Apple.  He is focused on taking the necessary steps to propel the company to even loftier heights.  Contemplating Cook’s words from the beginning of the interview, I personally wouldn’t bet against them.

Those are my thoughts.  As always, I invite and look forward to learning what you think.


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