Yesterday we told you that TIME magazine had shortlisted Tim Cook for its prestigious Person of the Year award, but U.S. President Barack Obama ended up getting selected as this year’s winner. Since Cook is the runner-up, TIME has profiled the CEO with an interview and a look at his history with Apple.
While much of the content in TIME’s profile has already been covered in Businessweek’s extensive interview and NBC Rock Center’s segment, the article does offer a nice overview of how Cook has stepped out of Steve Jobs’s shadow to become the leader of the most valuable company on earth.
The profile touches on Cook’s personal schedule and showcases his incredible work ethic:
Cook does have a few things in common with Jobs. He’s a workaholic, and not of the recovering kind. He wakes up at 3:45 every morning (“Yes, every morning”), does e-mail for an hour, stealing a march on those lazy East Coasters three time zones ahead of him, then goes to the gym, then Starbucks (for more e-mail), then work. “The thing about it is, when you love what you do, you don’t really think of it as work. It’s what you do. And that’s the good fortune of where I find myself.”
Like Jobs, Cook never shows any doubt in public, either about himself or about Apple, not a scintilla, not for an instant. He rarely strays far from his core message about Apple: that it’s the best, most innovative company in the world, that consumers love it and that it is his privilege to work for it and for them. When speaking about his management style, Cook begins, “CEOs are all packages of strengths and …” He hesitates, looking for some way to reroute the sentence around the word weaknesses. Then he finds it: “and so forth.”
A good chunk of the article deals with Cook’s career in moving from a number of big tech companies, including IBM and Compaq, before coming to Apple. TIME then explains how Cook has made great strides to grow Apple in China and demonstrate greater transparency with labor practices in the supply chain.
His critics say Cook lacks a true technologist’s vision, but it would be more accurate to say that he has yet to show his hand. Apple finished 2012 with a triumphant record of innovation, but it was innovation with a small i, as in incremental. That’s good enough for an ordinary company, but it’s not what made Apple worth more than Exxon Mobil. The essence of Apple is the quantum leap, the unexpected sideways juke into a heretofore unnoticed and underexploited market — personal computers, digital music players, smart phones, tablet computers. Maybe the next stop is televisions; that’s certainly where the rumor mill is going. But the test for Cook will be to seek out a new category that’s vulnerable to disruption and disrupt the hell out of it.
Make sure to check out the full profile over at TIME. It’s a great read.
Image: Marco Grob for TIME