Leadership

Apple CEO Tim Cook zeroes in on the particular genius of Steve Jobs

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Photo by The Washington Post
Apple CEO Tim Cook

Steve Jobs had a profound impact on Tim Cook, both as a business leader and as a man.

"The person who has influenced me the most in life is Steve by far," says Cook, who spoke in Scotland on Wednesday after receiving an honorary degree from The University of Glasgow.

Jobs hired Cook when Cook was 36 years old and, in his words, "rudderless." Two decades later, Cook took over Apple after Jobs' untimely death in 2011.

The most remarkable aspect of Jobs was his singular obsessiveness.

"He had a focus that was unlike any other," says Cook. In his role at Apple, that focus was entirely on making excellent products.

Watch the full speech below. (Warning, the video is not of the highest quality.)

What allowed Jobs to focus so intently was his ability to prioritize, says Cook: "His thinking was so pure. He wasn't trying to maximize his wealth, or anything else."

Jobs did become quite wealthy in his time leading Apple. But that was because Jobs never chased the cash, according to Cook. Jobs obsessed over making excellent products that people wanted, and the money followed.

"His thinking was so pure." -Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Most CEOs get the priorities flipped, but Jobs "never did," says Cook.

Jobs was similarly ruthless in prioritizing his time outside the office.

"He also, more than any individual I have ever met, had a clear pecking order in his life," says Cook. "And he knew he couldn't do very many things and so it was family, Apple, Pixar, and very little else."

That meant that Jobs didn't travel very often. He wanted to be able to get home and be with his family in the evenings, says Cook.

"I learned a lot from him, not only about being a CEO, but about ways to conduct your life."

See also: Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'The world is full of cynics and you have to tune them out'