Fast Company has today published a sizeable excerpt from Becoming Steve Jobs ($12 Amazon, $13 iBook), the upcoming book about the Apple cofounder’s’ life and his mannerisms. Unlike previous efforts, Apple is openly promoting this book and many executives, CEO Tim Cook included, have participated in interviews. This has yielded some very in-depth, intimate and interesting stories.
Following the story of Cook offering to give Jobs his liver, Cook is quoted as saying the Isaacson book did the late CEO a ‘disservice’. In very similar words to how Cue described the (unrelated) film about Jobs at SXSW, Cook says ‘The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time’.
“The Steve that I met in early ’98 was brash and confident and passionate and all of those things. But there was a soft side of him as well, and that soft side became a larger portion of him over the next 13 years. You’d see that show up in different ways. There were different employees and spouses here that had health issues, and he would go out of his way to turn heaven and earth to make sure they had proper medical attention. He did that in a major way, not in a minor, ‘Call me and get back to me if you need my help’ kind of way.
Cook also recalls how Jobs would call up his mother on the pretense of finding Cook, but in reality just wanted to talk to his parents about convincing Cook to have more of a social life. ‘Someone who’s viewing life only as a transactional relationship with people…doesn’t do that’.
The excerpt also features Eddy Cue, who says Jobs ‘worked his ass off’ even in the final years, seemingly wanting to be treated as a normal person, not sick. As time went by, Jobs prioritized marketing, design and product introductions as to how he spent his time. Succession planning began in 2004 but was accelerated by Jobs’ declining health.
This also ties in with Apple University, which is a way to teach future company leaders about the decision making process of original Apple. Cook says that Jobs became more open to explaining his thought-process about things he had done.
“Steve cared deeply about the why,” says Cook. “The why of the decision. In the younger days I would see him just do something. But as the days went on he would spend more time with me and with other people explaining why he thought or did something, or why he looked at something in a certain way. This was why he came up with Apple U., so we could train and educate the next generation of leaders by teaching them all we had been through, and how we had made the terrible decisions we made and also how we made the really good ones.”
Jobs also focused on the new spaceship headquarters, according to the book. Cook says Jobs always wanted to imbue ethical values into the company, something which Cook has amplified since his death.
This belief in Apple as a special place—as a company as magical, perhaps, as an iPad—was something Steve shared with Cook and was certainly part of the reason he urged the board of directors to sign off on Cook as his successor. “This was a significant common thread we had,” says Cook. “I really love Apple, and I do think Apple is here for a bigger reason. There are very few companies like that on the face of the earth anymore.”
On August 11th, Cook says Jobs called him to decide that he was going to be the next CEO. For context, Jobs died two months later, in October. The direct anecdote from this quote has been recalled before, but the excerpt does a good job of capturing Cook’s mixed feelings.
“He says, ‘You make all the decisions.’ I go, ‘Wait. Let me ask you a question.’ I tried to pick something that would incite him. So I said, ‘You mean that if I review an ad and I like it, it should just run without your okay?’ And he laughed and said, ‘Well, I hope you’d at least ask me!’ I asked him two or three times, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’
Cook describes how he thought Jobs would act as chairman for much longer than two months, with in-depth discussions about the arrangements. He says he saw Jobs ‘getting better’.
Eight weeks after Steve told Cook he was making him CEO, things took a sudden turn for the worse. “I watched a movie with him the Friday before he passed away,” Cook remembers. “We watched Remember the Titans [a sentimental football story about an underdog]. I was so surprised he wanted to watch that movie. I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ Steve was not interested in sports at all. And we watched and we talked about a number of things and I left thinking that he was pretty happy. And then all of a sudden things went to hell that weekend.”
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