Tim Cook made an appearance in the U.K. yesterday to open The Oxford Foundry, a new Oxford University venue that’s focused on developing entrepreneurial skills for students and future entrepreneurs.
In a wide-ranging conversation on stage, Cook discussed everything from his approach to innovation to when to listen to customers (and when not to). Check out a video below.
Tim Cook talks leadership, diversity, and Steve Jobs
As part of his talk, Cook discussed his early career, and how he wanted to discover a job that he loved. He also discussed Apple when he joined in 1998, saying that it was just after Steve Jobs had returned to the company and, “essentially fired everyone who was working for him at the time.” Cook said that it was only after joining Apple that his values and work aligned for the first time in his career.
Somewhat amusingly, given Cook’s reputation for being a brilliant operations guy, he also revealed that — prior to joining Apple — he actually made a spreadsheet comparing the various reasons why it was and was not a good idea. The spreadsheet said it was a bad idea, but Cook’s intuition told him differently, and he took the job.
He dedicated a lot of time to speaking about Apple’s values as well, such as why focus groups are a bad idea, but how it’s important to listen to customers in other ways. With that in mind, Cook said that he gets up extremely early in the morning so as to spend an hour going through customer emails.
He also discussed the importance of diversity as a way to connect with customers from all around the world. However, Cook also said that ideological diversity is important, so as not to be trapped in an echo chamber, which is why he wouldn’t sack someone for not agreeing with Cook on a topic like climate change. In addition, he answered some questions from the audience, and offered a number of useful tips for would-be entrepreneurs.
The interview, which was live-streamed, is well worth watching. Although Cook doesn’t reveal much of anything about future Apple plans, it does give a great insight into Cook himself — and, by extension, Apple as a company.