7 Things We Learned when Fortune Named Tim Cook World's Greatest Leader

Fortune magazine named Apple CEO Tim Cook the world's greatest leader on Thursday. A tremendous feather in Tim Cook's hat, the resulting interview he gave to Fortune resulted in seven things we—or at least I—didn't already know about Mr. Cook and Apple.

First, here's the video story accompanying the writeup:

The full story on Mr. Cook and Apple is outstanding. It's a great piece of writing and it's great reporting. I recommend reading it in full, but below are the seven things I learned about both Mr. Cook and Apple:

1.) Apple doesn't have a name for Apple Campus 2, or the Spaceship HQ.

I suppose I just assumed that Steve Jobs had a name all picked out for the massive building (see more on its size below). Mr. Jobs worked on the building a lot in the last two years of his life, and he typically had plans and ideas about everything he did. According to Fortune, however, Apple hasn't yet picked a name:

Cook visits the work site periodically—including twice already with Apple's board—and he exhibits an engineer's glee at watching the 22 construction cranes that dot the landscape. He says Apple hasn't decided yet exactly what it will call 'Apple Campus 2,' the current internal designation. Some naming element of the buildings or the entire locale will almost certainly include an homage to Jobs, depending on his family's wishes, says Cook.

2.) Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium—the new home of the San Francisco 49ers—will fit inside the inner ring of Apple's campus.

That offers me a brand new perspective on the size of Apple's building.

'[An office building] shouldn't be a place that doesn't turn on your creative juices,' [Tim Cook] says, musing about how future college recruits will feel when they first visit. Visible in the distance are Apple's existing Cupertino campus, downtown San Jose, and Levi's Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play and which, incidentally, would fit into the 30-acre park that will be at the center of the main spaceship building.

3.) Tim Cook is deliberately allowing his lieutenants to get more exposure.

We've certainly noticed how many interviews top Apple execs have given to mainstream media outlets. It turns out it's not just a by-product of Tim Cook making Apple more open than it was under Steve Jobs, it's a deliberate effort to raise their profile. From the piece:

An irony of Cook's Apple is that the company is becoming visibly more open under its guarded CEO than it was under the publicity-savvy demigod who ran Apple before him. Whereas Jobs severely restricted interactions between all his employees and the press, Cook has ushered in a period of glasnost with the news media. It is highly unlikely that Jobs would have tolerated, for example, The New Yorker's recent 16,000-word profile of Jony Ive, Apple's chief designer. Cook says such exposure is part of his plan. “My objective is to raise the public profile of several of the folks on the executive team, and others as well. Because I think that's good for Apple at the end of the day.”

Steve Jobs's penchant for secrecy served its purpose well. But Apple is so much bigger than it was, and I for one think Tim Cook has the right of it. It's good for Apple, good for its fans, and good for its talented execs to be seen.

Next: Tim Cook's Money, on Coming Out, Media Events, and Voting

Page 2 - Tim Cook's Money, on Coming Out, Media Events, and Voting


Apple CEO Tim Cook

On page one, I looked at Fortune naming Tim Cook the world's greatest leader, and three more things I learned from the Fortune's writeup. 

4.) Tim Cook plans to give away all his money.

Tim Cook has amassed a net worth of more than $120 million, and when his current stock options vest it will be close to a billion. Most likely, it will eventually be much more. But Mr. Cook doesn't have children to pass it on to, and he told Fortune that aside from assuring the college education of his nephew, he plans to give it all away.

Because it's Tim Cook, however, he will be methodical and deliberate about it. I can't wait to see what he does. From the piece:

To Cook, changing the world always has been higher on Apple's agenda than making money. He plans to give away all his wealth, after providing for the college education of his 10-year-old nephew. There should be plenty left over to fund philanthropic projects. Cook's net worth, based on his holdings of Apple stock, is currently about $120 million. He also holds restricted stock worth $665 million if it were to be fully vested. Cook says that he has already begun donating money quietly, but that he plans to take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks.

5.) Tim Cook decided to come out as gay "quite some time ago."

It was a well known secret that Tim Cook is gay, but Mr. Cook didn't come out until this last fall. According to Fortune, Mr. Cook did it because he felt he had a responsibility to help other people, especially those who are bullied. From the piece:

Cook says that he'd come to the decision of coming out 'quite some time ago' and that his announcement was viewed internally at Apple, where his sexual orientation was more or less well known, as a 'yawner.' Speaking out so publicly was a big step for Cook, though, who has described himself as intensely private and who is rare among big-company CEOs for being genuinely ill at ease talking about himself. 'To be honest, if I would not have come to the conclusion that it would likely help other people, I would have never done it,' he says. 'There's no joy in me putting my life in view.' Referencing the often-cited line that 'to whom much is given, much is required,' Cook says, 'I've certainly been given a lot.'

There is much more on this topic in the full article.

6.) Apple plans to hold all media events in the auditorium it is building as part of the Spaceship HQ.

It was a good guess that Apple would do just that, but this is the first confirmation I've seen on the topic.

He is particularly excited about the mostly below-ground, 1,000-seat auditorium in the southeast corner of the campus, which will be the company's new site for all its public presentations other than its annual developers conference. 'No more scheduling months ahead of time around other people's schedules,' says Cook enthusiastically.

7.) Tim Cook doesn't need your vote.

I love this last item. It's not exactly news that Mr. Cook doesn't need our vote—actually, he does need shareholders to vote for the board of directors that supports him, but come on. There's no danger in that. But I love the way he put it. I should think more of us could benefit from adopting some of this attitude, and that the world would be a better place for it. From the piece:

For his part, Cook says he has grasped that more important than answering his critics is learning to ignore them. 'I'm not running for office,' he says. 'I don't need your vote. I have to feel myself doing what's right. If I'm the arbiter of that instead of letting the guy on TV be that or someone who doesn't know me at all, then I think that's a much better way to live.'

Read the full Fortune article for more.