Who is Tim Cook? It’s a question many have asked since he took over from Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple. In a new profile, the Wall Street Journal does a good job of trying to unpack details about the man now leading a company valued higher than the GDP of some major economies. The piece reveals how Mr. Cook never tried to mimic his predecessor and that has brought both benefits and issues.

Incremental is Revolutionary

One of the biggest criticisms of Mr. Cook’s leadership is a lack of innovation, of groundbreaking new products. He reportedly rarely visits the company’s design lab, something Mr. Jobs did on a near daily basis. As the article notes:

Where Mr. Jobs or­ches­trated great leaps of in­no­va­tion, gen­er­ally de­fined by new prod­ucts ca­pa­ble of up­end­ing in­dus­tries, Mr. Cook has made Apple more re­flec­tive of him­self. The 59-year-old CEO, like the com­pany he leads, is cau­tious, col­lab­o­ra­tive and tac­ti­cal.

It’s made Apple huge amounts of money, but can lead to accusations incrementalism. Although, as former Apple staffer Chris Deaver commented in the piece, “incremental is revolutionary for Apple.”

Tim Cook angry about Donal Trump import tariffs

Leaving Meetings With Tim Cook in Tears

While stories of Mr. Jobs angry response to staff who failed to meet his expectations are the thing of legend, the seemingly easier going Mr. Cook is no less demanding of his subordinates, leading middle managers to “screen” those in their team before meeting with him to make sure they are fully prepared. “It’s about pro­tect­ing your team and pro­tect­ing him. You don’t waste his time,” a staffer explained. ‘“If he senses some­one is in­suf­fi­ciently pre­pared, he loses pa­tience and says, ‘Next,’ as he flips a page of the meet­ing agenda,” according to the source. “Peo­ple have left cry­ing.”

Privacy – Not Just For Users

As is regularly noted, Mr. Cook is a deeply private man. During the Thanksgiving period in 2018 “guests saw him din­ing by him­self at the se­cluded Aman­giri Ho­tel near Zion Na­tional Park,” according to the article. “When a guest later bumped into him, he said he came to the ho­tel to recharge af­ter a hec­tic fall punc­tu­ated by the roll­out of Apple’s lat­est iPhone.” According to a guest, Mr. Cook commented that “they have the best masseuses in the world here.”

One exception to this privacy is Mr. Cook’s decision to publicly come out, having met individually with other top Apple executives. He has since said his reason for doing so was to help inspire others.

As­sociates say it was vin­tage Tim Cook, an ex­am­ple of con­science bal­anced by a me­thod­i­cal aware­ness of pros and cons. Mr. Cook said he ul­ti­mately wanted to be a role model for young peo­ple be­ing bul­lied or wor­ried their fam­i­lies would dis­ap­prove of them.

How Tim Cook Plays Politics

The article notes that subtlety with which Mr. Cook has navigated his relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and advocates on issue such as human rights. For many though, his stance stands at odds with Apple’s extensive business in China. Its factories have recently, been accused of exploiting Uyghur Muslim workers, something Apple strongly rejects.

The truth is, until Mr. Cook decides to reveal part of himself publicly, as happened with his sexuality, the rest of us will largely be left guessing what makes him tick. And he’ll probably just keep making Apple even more money.

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John Kheit

Good. More people should leave crying considering apple’s horrendous lack of new products for years via its deep and empty pipeline.
 
Also cook should leave crying for putting all apples production eggs in one hostile communist basket for way too long.
 
Cry over your failures, then wipe the snot off, regroup, and keep striving to do better.