Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the commencement address at Duke University this morning. He urged the newest graduates of his alma mater to fearlessly face the challenges that trouble the world today, and assured them that technology gives them to power to do so.
Problems Cook mentioned include political divisions, climate change, and societal inequality. But he also told the graduates, “You are not powerless to fix them. No generation has ever had more power than yours, and no generation has a chance to change things faster than yours can.”
The CEO of Apple believes that it’s technology that will makes these changes possible. “The pace at which progress is possible has accelerated dramatically. Aided by technology, every individual has the tools, potential, and reach to build a better world. That makes this the best time in history to be alive.”
He urged the former students to stretch themselves, even pulling out a phrase that was once Apple’s tagline. “Don’t just accept the world you inherit today. No big challenge has ever been solved, and no lasting improvement has ever been achieved, unless people dare to try something different. Dare to think different.”
Change the world for the better
It’s young people, new graduates who are still getting started in life, that should take the lead in positive change. As Cook said “The world-class education you’ve received, that you’ve worked so hard for, gives you opportunities that few people have. You are uniquely qualified and therefore uniquely responsible to build a better way forward. That won’t be easy. It will require great courage. But that courage will not only help you live your life to the fullest, it will empower you to transform the lives of others.”
And the CEO of Apple urged them to be courageous. “Fearlessness means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than by applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart more than when you stand with the crowd.
“If you step up without fear of failure, if you talk and listen to each other without fear of rejection, if you act with decency and kindness even when no one is looking, even if it seems small or inconsequential, trust me, the rest will fall into place. More importantly, you’ll be able to tackle the big things when they come your way.”
Cook finished by urging “Be fearless. Be the last people to accept things as they are and the first people to stand up and change them for the better.”
The full speech is available below.
Tim Cook begins at the 2:16:51 point.