We discussed Tim Cook’s speaking at Duke’s Fuqua Business school on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his MBA back in April. This weekend, Duke published insightful snippets of the remarks he made and they are incredibly insightful. Perhaps most interesting was Cook’s views on collaboration:
What qualities do you look for in terms of what you think will produce effective collaboration?And what’s your role as CEO in fostering that kind of collaboration?
You look for people that are not political. People that are not bureaucrats. People that can privately celebrate the achievement, but not care if their name that is in the one in the lights. There are greater reasons to do things.
You look for wicked smart people. You look for people who appreciate different points of view. People who care enough that they have an idea at 11 at night and they want to call and talk to you about it. Because they’re so excited about it, they want to push the idea further. And that they believe that somebody can help them push the idea another step instead of them doing everything themselves.
I’ve never met anyone in my life, maybe they exist, that could do something so incredible by themselves in companies with global footprints. In our world, in Apple’s world, the reason Apple is special is we focus on hardware, software, and services. And the magic happens where those three come together.
And so, it’s unlikely that somebody that’s focused on one of those in and of itself can come up with magic and so you want people collaborating in such a way so you can produce these things that can’t be produced otherwise. And you want people to believe in that.
There are 6 other important videos, below:
On Cook’s 25 year plan, nothing really happened like he’d expected and his advice is to prepare for uncertainty.
On Intuition, you aren’t born with it, it is the sum total of life’s experiences. The challenge is when and how to listen to it. Most important decisions aren’t based on statistics and analytics. On Apple, he couldn’t get analytics to make the Apple decision to work, so he just went for it.
On inspirational leaders: Three photos in his office are Bobby Kennedy (2) and MLK. Both are role models because they risked their lives for a just cause.
On Ethical Leadership: Moral compass comes from parents and surroundings over the years. When business people think of ethics it really is environment/ carbon footprint, way you treat employees, whole personna, etc. Simply: Leaving things better than they found them.
On writing your own rules: If you follow formulas, you will at best be as good as everyone else.
Three focuses of Tim Cook are: People, Strategy and Execution
Press Release follows:
APPLE CEO AND FUQUA ALUM TIM COOK TALKS LEADERSHIP AT DUKE
Tim Cook spoke to students and alums when he returned for his 25th reunion
“Explore everything. Push the corners of your mind. Just get on this kind of continual learning roller coaster and see what happens.”
This was among the advice Apple CEO Tim Cook shared with students at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business on April 26th. Back on campus for his 25-year reunion, Cook took part in an hour-long dialogue with Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding and the students in a jam-packed Geneen Auditorium buzzing with excitement to hear from the leader of the world’s most profitable company.
The Apple CEO has embarked on a career far different than he had envisioned after graduating from Fuqua’s Evening Executive MBA program in 1988. “For me the journey was not predictable at all. You have to find your own north star and stay with your north star.”
As 450 Daytime MBA students prepared to graduate, Cook advised the students to heed Abraham Lincoln’s words of wisdom: “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.”
Cook shared the three keys to his leadership at Apple: people, strategy, and execution. “If you get those three right the world is a great place.”
Students were able to get a unique glimpse into Cook’s motivation, inspiration and leadership role models. Raised in the south and a witness to racial injustice, Cook described his admiration for Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Junior’s bravery in risking their lives to fight for what they believed in. He has just three photos in his office: two of Kennedy and one of King.
Cook was asked when to follow strict principles of business theory and when to break the rules. His response stressed the importance of risks and learning from failure. “You should rarely follow the rules. What Fuqua teaches you so well is how to learn and how to collaborate. Write your own rules.”
This message resonated with first-year MBA student Shelby Hall. “I know this follows Steve Jobs’ belief that Apple creates products which consumers didn’t ever know existed,” she said. “It was interesting to hear Tim Cook’s perspective on how we should balance writing our own rules while applying the foundations of business taught here at Fuqua.”
Cook also spoke about some of his recollections from Fuqua. “The people made it an incredible experience. It was great for me to see how bright people approached solutions in different ways.”
First-year MBA student Juan Danzilo says Cook’s willingness to share his experiences shows a deep commitment to Fuqua. “Tim Cook’s presence reflects Fuqua’s sense of community. His humility and eloquence is admirable. It certainly was a unique opportunity for MBA students to hear from such an inspirational leader.”
- Apple CEO Tim Cook talks at Duke University in honor of his 25-year reunion (9to5mac.com)
- Live Blog: Apple CEO Tim Cook’s interview at the D11 Conference (9to5mac.com)