Tim Cook does not have an enviable job as the CEO of Apple. Following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs, one of America’s most iconic and successful CEOs, can’t be easy. Trying to establish yourself as a leader when everyone in the world thinks they know “what Steve would do” is a no-win scenario. And, of course, anything short of stratospheric growth in revenue, profits, and stock value is abject failure – even if your company remains one of the most valuable and profitable the world has ever seen.
And yet, it’s hard to feel sorry for a man who receives a salary measured in eight digits and stock options measured in nine.
According to a major interview Cook recently with the Washington Post, running Apple “is sort of a lonely job,” but he also notes that, “I’m not looking for any sympathy. CEOs don’t need any sympathy.” The interview was given on the occasion of the production of the billionth iPhone.
I won’t try to summarize the extended interview here – You really should read the whole thing! But here are a few highlights:
- As Apple CEO, he can turn to a variety of people for advice. Cook needs help with stockholder relations? Call Warren Buffet – head of Berkshire Hathaway. Making decisions on the best way to come out officially in public as being gay? Check in with CNN’s Anderson Cooper who handled the same issue with grace. Testifying before congress about Apple and tax policy? Talk with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
- Standing up to the FBI for privacy on the iPhone and other iOS devices was difficult – both knowing what was right was hard and explaining it to the public was hard.
- Trying to balance his own intense desire for privacy and his desire to help young people dealing with the same issues.
Tim Cook is one of the most important people in American and global media. This interview is worth the read.