Apple CEO Cook talks leadership, hiring, focus

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in April, and as noted by MacRumors, the school recently posted clips of Cook’s appearance on YouTube. Cook — who earned his MBA from Duke — speaks about leadership and collaboration, among other topics. The key points Cook made were:

* Hiring Apple employees: Cook said that Apple looks to hire people who “aren’t bureaucrats,” “don’t care who gets credit,” are “wicked smart,” “appreciate different points of view,” and “care enough that they have an idea at 11 at night and they want to call and talk to you about it” because they know that collaborating will move the idea forward. Cook noted that virtually no one can take a great idea from concept to reality alone, and that at Apple, the intersection of hardware, software, and services makes collaboration necessary.

* Focusing on three things: Cook apparently advises leaders, in Steve Jobs fashion, to focus on three things in order to succeed. He explained that his three focuses at Apple are on working with brilliant “people,” creating a heavily product-focused “strategy,” and “executing like crazy,” suggesting that getting those things right makes almost everything else work properly.

* Following rules: A student asked Cook when it’s okay to break the rules, particularly given what professors have been teaching them. In all seriousness, Cook responded, “I think you should rarely follow the rules. You should write the rules.” Following someone else’s formula will make you at best the same as your rivals, he suggested, so “if you want to excel, you can’t do that.” A good education helps you learn broad concepts, how to learn more, and how to work with people who may possess different viewpoints, things that will lead to success.

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