Tim Cook describes lessons from Steve Jobs, says ‘focus on the dead’ when it comes to heroes [Video]

Tim Cook sat down today at the University of Oxford for an interview at the Saïd Business School along with questions from students. While Cook reiterated answers to some questions that aren’t surprising, there was a particularly surprising nugget of wisdom shared today about heroes…

Much like Jony Ive shared recently as a part of his interview at The New Yorker’s Tech Fest, Cook shared some of the most important things that Steve Jobs taught him.

Steve taught me that the joy was in the journey. That is wasn’t in the final thing. That the joy was really the daily stuff. Steve taught me the importance of focus and that it didn’t matter who you are and it didn’t matter if it was your personal life or your business life that you can only do a few things well. And that you had to be ruthless as you choose what things you’re going to be great at. […]

He taught me things about technology, that Apple needed to own the primary technologies of its products. He taught me that best was more important that most, for Apple. […]

He taught me that the best groups are more like a band, not a group of chiclets.

One of the most interesting parts of the conversation with Cook had to be his answer to the question about if he has any living heroes.

I have not had success with living heroes, and because, uh, I think it’s better to pick a dead person [crowd laughter] and the reason is, no seriously, I’m serious about this, the reason is, dead people don’t disappoint you. […]

You would hold them so high and then one day you would find out it wasn’t real. That you had built them up to something that they’re not. There is one person that I have met, that my expectation was so high and he exceeded it and that I would call a hero that’s living, and that’s the pope. The pope I would say, when you meet him, there’s a feeling that comes over you that’s indescribable, regardless of your religion, I’m not, I’m not pushing a certain religion. But meeting someone who is so pure and only focused on improving lives, I think he meets that bar. But otherwise, I’d say focus on the dead.

The full interview and Q&A includes some other interesting questions from business students. Cook also shares more optimism for AR when asked about the most exciting new technologies (while interestingly saying Apple doesn’t like when people use its products) as well as thoughts on leadership and the responsibility of Apple.

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