Apple CEO Tim Cook has an estimated net worth of $625 million, and much of his success is thanks to a risk the late Steve Jobs encouraged him to take 20 years ago: leaving a new, stable and impressive job to join Apple.
Accepting the job was not merely the best decision of his professional life but "maybe the best decision of my life" altogether, Cook told Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein on the June 13 episode of "The David Rubenstein Show."
At 22, fresh out of Auburn University, Cook began a 12-year-long career at IBM. He started as a production engineer at a time when robotics were beginning to take off, he explained. His next big break was at Compaq, the world's largest supplier of PCs at the time.
Then, Cook says, Apple reached out. Though Apple's size was modest compared to Compaq's, he agreed to speak to Jobs. "Steve had come back to the company," Cook said, "and was essentially replacing the executive team that was there at the time."
Jobs himself piqued Cook's interest: "This was an opportunity to talk to the guy who started a whole industry, the man who started the legacy." And "just minutes" later, Cook was convinced: "I totally shocked myself," he recalled, but he knew, "I wanna do it."