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Tim Cook: 'I never dreamed of being the CEO of Apple'

Tim Cook
Mark Neuling | CNBC

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has arguably one of the world's most powerful jobs. He leads the most valuable company on Earth, with a market cap of more than $600 billion.

It's perhaps surprising then to learn that he never expected to have that kind of influence.

"I never dreamed of being the CEO of Apple ... I never thought it possible," Cook said at the Utah Tech Tour last week. Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch moderated a conversation with Cook, which included questions from the audience.

This revelation from Cook came in response to a question from a sixth-grade girl who is an aspiring ballerina, but wanted to know how one becomes the CEO of Apple.

Cook said he got "the call of a lifetime" from Steve Jobs to be part of Apple in early 1998, and five minutes into his talk with the legendary tech leader, Cook said he was on board to join the company.

"And it was the best decision I ever made," said Cook, who took over the role of CEO in 2011 when Jobs died from cancer.

Cook said his career was guided by a quote from President Abraham Lincoln: "I will prepare, and someday my chance will come."

For those who aspire to have the success and influence that Cook does, he offered some surprising advice: Have faith.

"If you have faith that whatever you are doing today — [even if] you are not sure necessarily what it will become tomorrow — but eventually if you have faith, something great will happen," he said.

Cook also advised the sixth-grader and other young people to study hard and spend your energy carefully.

"Do great work, and have faith that those things will add up and lead you on a journey that will be a most incredible journey," Cook said.