Book: Tim Cook The Genius Who Took Apple To The Next Level

First of all, I own Apple stocks in my personal portfolio and I blogged many times about the company before. I picked up this book because I wanted to read something light and know more about the guy who runs the company which I admire and have a vested interest in. To be frank, the book was written by an author who seems to have a favorable view on Apple. Some suggested that his writing was biased towards the Cupertino-based company. I leave that to the readers to judge.

The book followed Tim Cook from his childhood in a small town in Alabama to his first job at IBM which was followed by one or two stints at others, before he ended up at Compaq. A fateful meeting with Steve Jobs shortly after he returned to the helm at Apple led to arguably one of Steve’s best hires at Apple who is now the CEO of the company. It’s interesting to read about Tim’s background in Alabama and the environment he grew up in. When he came to know his sexuality remains unclear from the book. What is clear is that his sexuality shapes his world view and what he declares as the best gift God gave him.

The majority of the book is about Apple under Tim’s leadership, even back to when he was only in charge of Apple’s supply chain. Some may be disappointed that the book doesn’t include more personal details or anecdotes on the man or any interview from the man himself. Nonetheless, he is known for being a private man and anyone’s privacy should be respected. If someone spends most of his awake time running a company, I think it’s fair to view him in the light of what others think of him and how he performs at work. Tim’s performance, when put in contrast to Steve Jobs’, should be more telling. While Steve is undoubtedly one of the best CEOs of all time, there are things that Tim did wouldn’t likely have been done by Steve such as the focus on environmental sustainability.

Tim’s actions on controversial issues such as the balance between profitability and protection of workers in the supply chain or privacy and the legal battle against FBI or his public confirmation on his sexuality should let readers know more about the man himself. Regarding his status as a CEO, Apple’s value has grown many times since he took over. The company once reached a market valuation of around $1.6 trillion. To manage a company with such operational complexity, a diverse set of products and services, a cut-throat competition and an unbridled level of scrutiny is no easy feat. No matter what you think about the book or the author’s allegedly favorable view on Apple, it’s hard to deny what Tim has brought to Apple.

“ Fast forward eight years, and under Cook’s leadership, Apple has been absolutely killing it. Since Jobs died, Apple reached the ultimate milestone, becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company, making it the most valuable corporation in the world. Its stock has nearly tripled. Its cash reserves have more than quadrupled since 2010, to a record $267.2 billion—despite its spending nearly $220 billion in stock buybacks and dividends. For perspective, the U.S. government only has $271 billion cash on hand.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI [return on investment],” he said. And the same thinking applies to Apple’s environmental initiatives, worker safety, and other policies. “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he snarled at the conservative investor. Afterward, the NCPPR issued a statement decrying Cook’s stance: “After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change.” But Cook, as always, stayed true to his principles.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI [return on investment],” he said. And the same thinking applies to Apple’s environmental initiatives, worker safety, and other policies. “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he snarled at the conservative investor. Afterward, the NCPPR issued a statement decrying Cook’s stance: “After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change.” But Cook, as always, stayed true to his principles.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

Shortly after Cook was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2014, he personally told Representative Todd that Apple had no intention of investing in Alabama until the state passes anti-discrimination laws. “Citizens of Alabama can still be fired based on their sexual orientation,” Cook said. “We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can create a different future.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“Under Cook’s leadership, the amount of time that Apple’s inventory sat on the company’s balance sheet was reduced from months to mere days. In the seven months after he started work at Apple, thanks to Cook’s achievements slashing inventory turnover from thirty days to six, the company’s inventory stock was reduced from $400 million worth of unsold Macs down to just $78 million.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

To make sure that the computers shipped out to customers in an expedient manner over the all-important holiday season, Cook booked $100 million worth of air freight months in advance. This was unheard of, but it paid off in a big way. Not only did Apple get its products out to customers in a rapid fashion, but its rival PC makers, such as Compaq, suddenly found themselves struggling to secure shipping over the holidays.

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“This is really bad,” Cook said. “Someone should be in China driving this.” The meeting continued for another half hour before Cook looked directly at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and asked, with deadly seriousness, “Why are you still here?” Khan immediately got up, left the meeting, drove to the airport, and booked a flight to China with no return date. He didn’t even stop at his home to pack a change of clothes.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“He took conference calls on Sunday nights, was replying to emails by 3:45 a.m., and was at his desk by 6 a.m. every morning. He worked twelve- or thirteen-hour days in the office, and then returned home to answer more emails.

“I would get a couple of emails from Tim between about 3:45 and 4:15 in the morning,” and “then from 4:30 to 6:00 it would go quiet,” said his colleague Bruce Sewell, Apple’s former general counsel. “That’s when he’s at home and eating breakfast, getting up, getting ready to go to the gym.” Then from about 6:15 onward he would be at work.

It wasn’t unheard of for Cook to fly to China, work three days without acknowledging the sixteen-hour time difference, fly back, land at 7 a.m., and be in the office for a meeting at 8:30. When he wasn’t flying to China to meet with Apple suppliers, he rarely left the state of California so that he could be available at a moment’s notice.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“Under Cook, Apple has taken a more hands-on role in launching initiatives targeting workers. In 2017 the company launched a new health awareness program intended for women working at its suppliers in India and China, offering access to services and education on self-examination for early cancer detection, nutrition, personal care, and maternal health. Jeff Williams said that by 2020, Apple hopes that this program will have reached one million women.

Apple’s financial muscle also means that it is able to dictate many of the terms of business to its suppliers. In 2018, Apple forced one of its suppliers in the Philippines to repay a total of $1 million it had charged for recruitment fees for factory jobs. ”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“iOS 7 also brought Activation Lock, a feature that prevents lost or stolen devices from being wiped and reactivated without the owner’s iCloud password. Activation Lock makes the iPhone and iPad significantly less appealing to would-be thieves, who quickly realized that they would not be able to sell what essentially became the world’s most attractive brick as soon as it was no longer in the possession of its rightful owner. Police data published in 2014 revealed that iPhone thefts in San Francisco had fallen 38 percent since Activation Lock was made available in September 2013, while thefts in London and New York City had dropped 24 percent and 19 percent, respectively.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“Stefan Behling, a Foster partner who became one of the project leads, recalled Jobs’s specific demands: “He knew exactly what timber he wanted, but not just ‘I like oak’ or ‘I like maple.’ He knew it had to be quarter-cut. It had to be cut in the winter, ideally in January, to have the least amount of sap and sugar content. We were all sitting there, architects with gray hair, going, ‘Holy shit!’”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

“Even something as simple as using an Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, which is surprisingly complex behind the scenes, is a small but telling example of innovation in the Cook era. Like Cook himself, these improvements aren’t trumpeted as big breakthroughs, but they add up to a better experience and are leading the rest of the tech industry. Indeed, many may not realize that this is the way Apple has always operated; the big breakthroughs are rare, but smaller incremental improvements are common, and sometimes they add up to big new breakthrough products.”

Excerpt From: Leander Kahney;. “Tim Cook.” Apple Books.

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