A Beijing student interviewing Tim Cook touched on a wide range of topics from culture to passionate team members that drive innovation
Apple was interviewed by a senior student yesterday by a Beijing University student by the name of He Shijie. Below are just a few interesting exchanges from that interview.
Cook was really excited to tell Shijie and his audience that he really believed that 2020 was their top year of innovation ever. And when Shijie praised the performance of his new M1-based MacBook Air, Cook interjected by saying, "It's kind of jaw-dropping isn't it." Cook added, for most "it was unexpected. It screams so fast."
Shijie: "But creating new things every year must be a very stressful process for you guys. How do you guys do it? How does Apple prepare for all those new things every year?
Cook: "You know there's no one formula for innovation, but what we do is we have a culture of creativity and a culture of collaboration and these two things together, when they intersect, create enormous innovation. You know, you put people together that have different skills, that look at the world differently, maybe they're from different places, they have different backgrounds. Some are software and hardware experts, some are in services. Some may be musicians and artists. But when you put them all together on a common purpose, to design an incredible product, it's amazing what can come out of it.
Cook added: "Putting people together that are diverse in an inclusive kind of environment where people can feed off of one another, feed off the energy – and you pick people that care enough, that really want to develop the best products in the world. People that care enough to call somebody up at midnight when they've just had a great idea. Because they know that if they'd share the idea that they can make that idea go further. One plus one has always been more than two at Apple.
When asked if there were any features on Apple products based on Chinese consumer feedback, Cook replied: "Oh, there's a ton of features there that are. Whether it's specific keyboards, whether it's the QR Code mode. 5G, in a lot of ways, was energized in China because China is so far ahead in the coverage model for 5G. Night mode was another one where … the inspiration for Night Mode came from China. And so we listen very carefully to our customers there and wind up creating things based on that and then given to the world. So yeah, we get a lot of feedback from China."
Shijie went on to ask Cook about what was his most memorable part of his visits to China. Cook replied: "Well, I always love interfacing with people. And so love to go to our stores to talk to customers to see what's on their minds. I love the history in China, and the arts. Last year, I went to the Palace Museum in Beijing. They were celebrating their 600th anniversary. This for me, is unbelievable because there's nothing in the U.S. that's, obviously 600 years old. And it was so fantastic being there. The Modern Art Museum in Shanghai is another place that was incorporating augmented reality into their exhibits. Fantastic. But if I say one thing, it's about the people. It's meeting people. It's meeting developers to see what they're working on. There's some incredible entrepreneurs in China that are pushing the envelope and really doing incredible work."
Cook added: It's customers, and seeing what customers do with our products. The largest reward we get for our work is seeing what other people do with it. You know, like yourself, you use our produces n your work and I'm so excited to understand what your process is."
Shijie shifted his next question at something down to earth. "Like many rural children in China, they don't have access to all of those advanced technologies to help them learn. But you are the Tsinghua Board Chair. What's your advice making sure that education is accessible to everyone?'
Cook: "Well, it's an honor and privilege to be the SEM Board Chair. I'm having a great time doing that and meeting many of the students there. The talent in the student body is unbelievable. And so it's a real privilege. We've always viewed at Apple that education is the great equalizer of people. And so in China, we're helping with the CDRF [China Development Research Foundation] and they're focused on raising children out of poverty. That means for us, providing our technology out in schools. And we've been really impressed with what we've seen there. We've designed curricula, like Everyone Can Create and Everyone Can Code. And we've just given it away for everyone because we believe that coding and creativity are two of the important skill of the future."
Shijie was curious to know what Apple's CEO was really passionate about regarding his work: "Is that an innate passion that you were born with or is it something that was slowly developed during your work process?"
Cook: "Well, I think you have to feed it, like you have to feed yourself and so forth. You have to ensure that you're constantly working on it. And the way that I do that is I surround myself with people I love to work with. And if you surround yourself with people like that you love to work with, then you feed off their energy. If you talk to young people a lot, the younger generation is idealistic and believe that they can change the world, which they can. And we believe we can change the world for the better. So it's that belief that gets me up every morning and to charge again to sort of ask the question of what am I doing for other people? And if you keep asking yourself that over and over it will drive you. It will provide the magnetic field that it takes to keep moving forward."
Lastly, Shijie asked: "Is there any advice that you want to give to graduate students in how to find a job that they actually like?"
Cook: "Well, you know, my old boss, Steve Jobs, said something very profound. He said, 'You'll know it when you find it. And if you haven't found it yet, you should keep looking,' because you want the passion. You want to feel this passion that you're working for a good reason – that what you're doing matters in the world; that is, you're making a difference in the world. And if you find that, it makes all the difference in the world. And you will know it when you find it because your will feel it. You'll be able to get up every morning and feel refreshed and charged up, ready to go again. And if you don't, you won't. And so I would say to everyone out there, that if they haven't found it yet, to keep looking. Stay curious and you will find it."
For more, watch the full video interview here.