Tim Cook had enormous shoes to fill when he took over as Apple CEO. After Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, doubters questioned whether the Southern engineer could keep Apple relevant. But Cook has led Apple to become the world’s most valuable company — he might be even better at running the company than Jobs ever was.
Now Fortune has named Cook the “world’s greatest leader” and published a profile full of exclusive details about Cook’s journey as Apple CEO. In the interview, Cook reveals how he developed thick skin, why he’s giving all his money to charity, and the real reasons he opened up about his sexuality.
The massive profile is well worth a read, but we’ve picked out the most interesting bits for you below.
Here are some of the reasons Cook tops Fortune’s list of the world’s best leaders, beating out tech superstars like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg (as well as pop wonders like Taylor Swift).
Cook’s not bothered by critics
“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.”
Tim’s not Steve, and he’s not trying to be
“He never tried to be Steve,” says Eddy Cue. “He tried to always be himself. He has been very good at letting us do our thing. He’s aware and involved at the high end, and he gets involved as needed. Steve got involved at the pixel level.”
All of Cook’s money is going to charity
Cook revealed that he plans to give away all his wealth after providing for his 10-year-old nephew’s college. He’s got plenty of money fund philanthropic projects too, with a net worth of $120 million. Tim’s also got restricted stock worth $665 million once it’s fully vested. Cook told Fortune he’s already begun donating money quietly, but plans to take time to develop a systematic approach rather than simply writing checks.
Apple is playing the long game under Tim
“The kind of investors we seek are long term because that’s how we make our decisions,” he says. “If you’re a short-term investor, obviously you’ve got the right to buy the stock and trade it the way you want. It’s your decision. But I want everybody to know that’s not how we run the company.”
Work is his biggest addiction
While following Tim around for the day, Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky got a look at Tim’s Apple Watch and noted “he has clocked 50 minutes of exercise and has traveled 8,139 steps, or about four miles. An early riser, he has been on his feet for 12 hours, and it’s not quite 3:30 p.m. His workday, and his job leading Apple, are far from over.”
Cook wants to share the spotlight
“My objective is to raise the public profile of several of the folks on the executive team, and others as well,” said Tim in response to a question about the New Yorker’s 16,000 profile on Jony Ive. “I think that’s good for Apple at the end of the day.”
The spaceship campus still needs a name
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. Just don’t call it ‘Apple Headquarters.’
“I hate the word ‘headquarters,’ ” Tim says. “There’s real work going on here. It isn’t overhead, and we’re not bureaucrats.”
All future Apple product announcements will be held on campus
Except for WWDC, Apple’s 1,000-seat auditorium in the southeast corner of the campus, will be the company’s new site for all its public presentations. “No more scheduling months ahead of time around other people’s schedules,” says Cook enthusiastically.
Cook was pretty chill when they screwed up on sapphire glass
Apple lost hundreds of millions of dollars on its doomed sapphire plant in partnership with GTAT, but Jeff Williams says Cook was pretty chill about it all. “When I informed Tim of the problem, his response was, ‘Let’s see what we can learn from it. We’re not going to bat a thousand. And we’re going to keep betting on great technologies for our customers.’”
Cook came out for the kids
Speaking about his revelatory article in Bloomberg announcing he’s gay, Cook says that he primarily acted out of concern for kids who were bullied at school, some to the point of suicide, and because of the many states that still allow employers to fire workers over their sexual orientation.
“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.” Also, whereas U.S. courts were moving surprisingly quickly on the issue, “I didn’t feel like business was exactly leading the way in the executive suite.”