The Person of the Year award has been given out by TIME Magazine since 1927 and it goes to the person who has influenced the world the most. This years Person of the Year award had eight nominees that included Malala Yousafzai, Tim Cook, Barack Obama, Mohamed Morsi, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Higgs Boson and Marissa Mayer.
Today Time Magazine has selected the Person of the Year and it was the president of the United States, Barrack Obama. The runner up was none other than Tim Cook and as such TIME has profiled the CEO with an interview.
A lot of the interview is actually pretty repetitive as Cook has been interviewed twice recently — once by Businessweek and again by Brian Williams from Rock Center — but it does offer an interesting look at how Cook differentiates himself from Jobs.
He’s a seducer, a Southern drawler, slow and soft-spoken. He has been observed winking. He doesn’t come at you; he waits for you to come to him. And sooner or later you do, not because you have to but because, dang it, you want to. Cook himself is reluctant to lean too hard on the contrast. “I think there’s some obvious differences,” he says. (He allows himself a chuckle at the understatement.) “The way we conduct ourselves is very different. I decided from negative time zero — a long time before he talked to me about his decision to pass the CEO title — that I was going to be my own self. That’s the only person that I could do a good job with being.” That’s what Jobs wanted. He didn’t want Cook to be a Jobs knockoff. He wanted Cook to be Cook.
Tim Cook’s persona is definitely different than Jobs’, but they do have a few things in common. This includes work ethic and understanding of Apple’s core message.
Cook does have a few things in common with Jobs. He’s a workaholic, and not of the recovering kind. He wakes up at 3:45 every morning (“Yes, every morning”), does e-mail for an hour, stealing a march on those lazy East Coasters three time zones ahead of him, then goes to the gym, then Starbucks (for more e-mail), then work. “The thing about it is, when you love what you do, you don’t really think of it as work. It’s what you do. And that’s the good fortune of where I find myself.”
Like Jobs, Cook never shows any doubt in public, either about himself or about Apple, not a scintilla, not for an instant. He rarely strays far from his core message about Apple: that it’s the best, most innovative company in the world, that consumers love it and that it is his privilege to work for it and for them.
A large portion of the interview deals with Cook’s early career working for tech companies like IBM , Intelligent Electronics and Compaq and how Steve Jobs convinced him in five minutes to come work for Apple. It also goes into his accomplishments of gaining more ground in China and improving labour practices in manufactures such as Foxconn.
His critics say Cook lacks a true technologist’s vision, but it would be more accurate to say that he has yet to show his hand. Apple finished 2012 with a triumphant record of innovation, but it was innovation with a small i, as in incremental. That’s good enough for an ordinary company, but it’s not what made Apple worth more than Exxon Mobil. The essence of Apple is the quantum leap, the unexpected sideways juke into a heretofore unnoticed and underexploited market — personal computers, digital music players, smart phones, tablet computers. Maybe the next stop is televisions; that’s certainly where the rumor mill is going. But the test for Cook will be to seek out a new category that’s vulnerable to disruption and disrupt the hell out of it.
The entire interview is definitely worth the read if you have some spare time at some point today. If you would like to read the interview click here.