If you haven't checked out Business Week's interview with Tim Cook yet, do yourself a favor and read it.
It's long but well worth the read, especially considering Apple's influence and the insights into Tim and the "new" Apple. And if you don't think that Apple influences you, pull out your mobile phone and then get back to me. If it's a smartphone of any kind, then Apple influences you. Without the creation of the first generation iPhone, the whole smartphone industry wouldn't be where it is today - not even close.
I'm glad Tim stepped up to do the interview. Any PR pro or journalist will tell you that Steve Jobs "got" PR better than most executives. Ask Walt Mossberg or any of the other handfuls of journalists who received personal phone calls from him on a regular basis. I'm not telling every CEO to go call up journalists this second on a whim (not all can be Steve Jobs) because for most, calling requires strategy and a good reason. That said, kudos go to Tim for his in-depth interview with Josh Tyrangiel, and understanding its importance. It seems especially fitting considering that Business Week was the first publication to put Steve Jobs on its cover.
In the interview, Josh did a nice job of asking personal and business-related questions. Personal questions aren't appropriate for every executive interview, but Apple is unique. Its fans are so loyal that they truly care about who's running the ship - Josh and Tim both know that. Tim didn't get overly personal, and knew to bring the responses back to what's most important - his Apple business philosophy. In my opinion, we finally got to see something in Tim that I've wanted to see for a while - his passion for the company and its products. No, he's not Steve Jobs and no one realistically expected or wanted him to be. But we did want to see - no, us Fangirls and boys needed to see - is that Tim Cook absolutely loves Apple. He does.
What impressed me most was how much some of Tim's responses channeled part of Steve Jobs' business mantra. For example, Tim Cook stated that, "we’ll keep disrupting and keep discovering new things that people didn’t know they wanted." This sounds eerily similar to Steve Jobs' famous quote, "A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." It's not exactly the same, but was just similar enough. In addition, throughout the article Tim praises his coworkers as if they are the best thing to happen since sliced bread. He went to an absolute hyperbolic extent to describe the best, smartest, most creative business people in the world - working with him at Apple. Steve Jobs did this often, dramatically describing how ingenious his people and products were. Tim has definitely taken on this trait. That's not a bad thing at all. As CEO, it's critical to have confidence and respect for the people you hire.
I also need to give props to Tim for his JFK quote - not just the quote though, but his meaning behind it. "To whom much is given, much is expected." Tim spent some time explaining Apple's desire to give back through charitable donations and employee match programs, but also to set a good example. Apple would still be wildly successful whether or not they were more transparent regarding supply chain practices and conditions for workers in overseas factories. By no means do they have to do this. But Tim's right, they're a corporate and tech superpower, so why not set a good example?
Tim Cook isn’t Steve Jobs, not even close. And as Steve told him before he died, he shouldn’t try to be Steve – that’s no way to run a successful company. He has his own way of stirring the creative process and leading, and that’s okay. But he did learn a lot from Steve, and I think this interview proves it.
Check out the article and let us know what you thought in the comments. Was Tim channeling Steve? Was he way off the mark? By the way, if you're looking for a cliff notes version of the article other than this fantastic one you just read, check out Jon Mitchell's article from Read Write - he provides a great analysis of Tim's responses.