In MIT speech, Tim Cook says Apple offered him a 'higher purpose'

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Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday delivered the 2017 commencement address for students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in which he claimed that joining Apple gave him fundamental meaning in his life.




"I tried meditation. I sought guidance and religion. I read great philosophers and authors. In a moment of youthful indiscretion, I might even have experimented with a Windows PC. And obviously that didn't work," Cook said about his time before Apple. Prior to being recruited by Steve Jobs in 1998, Cook worked at two major PC companies, IBM and Compaq.

Cook said that after Jobs brought him onboard, he "finally felt aligned" with a company that "brought together challenging, cutting edge work with a higher purpose," as well as "a leader who believed that technology which didn't exist yet could reinvent tomorrow's world." He also credited the work with satisfying a personal need to "serve something greater."

"I was never going to find my purpose working some place without a clear sense of purpose of its own," Cook added. "Steve and Apple freed me to throw myself into the work and embrace their mission and make it my own. How can I serve humanity? This is life's biggest and most important question."



The executive lastly suggested that if graduates pursue a similar path, humanity has an optimistic outlook.

"Always remember there is no idea bigger than this: as Dr. Martin Luther King said, we are all bound together in a single garment of destiny. If you keep that idea at the forefront of all that you do, if you choose to live your lives at that intersection between technology and the people it serves, if you strive to create the best, give the best, and do the best for everyone -- not just for some -- then today all of humanity has good cause for hope."

Cook toured the MIT campus on Thursday, meeting students and faculty. A number of Apple workers are MIT graduates.

The CEO has delivered other commencement speeches in the past, reaching as far back as his start with Apple as senior VP of worldwide operations.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,184member
    You know, we’ve been programmed to be skeptical about the motives of large corporations. The ideology that says all corporations are evil at their core has taken hold in the culture. The rich are oppressing us. Billionaires are evil and made their money on the backs of the poor. Well you know the drill. So when Cook makes this speech my skeptical, cynical antenna got a tingle. I wonder if he really believes what he says. I always think back to Steve Jobs asking John Sculley whether he wanted sell sugared water the rest of his life or join him and change the world. These guys may indeed believe what they say but do the pressures of business and the demands of shareholders eventually steer them in a different direction? This all sounds altruistic but is it? Is it all just an act? Is Apple no different than Amazon in the end? Does it really all boil down to profit and not some lofty social motivation?
    edited June 2017 gatorguyargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Cook added, "How can I serve humanity? This is life's biggest and most important question."

    i believe people from all social and business strata inherently have an urge to serve a 'higher' purpose. Once they have matured or been exposed to such compassionate expression.  A beautiful contribution to this pursuit was long ago postulated through the quasi scientific path of the bodhisattva. Regardless of formal, mores, or intuitive, people have an inherent desire to do good, until various social/religious/familial pressures dilute that natural human sense. At this point in our national reality, it seems a minority opinion, but under the surface people still long to pursue good works.

    argonaut
  • Reply 3 of 25
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 1,030member
    Can it work both ways replacing bioregional, biological & cultural diversity with universal global ubiquity...? I understand Oppenheimer was brilliant, well meaning and purposeful, bent on the goal to end the unprecedented horrors of WWII, and yet when such potential finally came to pass: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb13ynu3Iac Will the potential incremental reach now extend into hifi and the living room...? Who should own any 'cloud' data - to all those facilitating or offering up their IP to 'free' services...
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 4 of 25
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,362member
    lkrupp said:
    You know, we’ve been programmed to be skeptical about the motives of large corporations. The ideology that says all corporations are evil at their core has taken hold in the culture. The rich are oppressing us. Billionaires are evil and made their money on the backs of the poor. Well you know the drill. So when Cook makes this speech my skeptical, cynical antenna got a tingle. I wonder if he really believes what he says. I always think back to Steve Jobs asking John Sculley whether he wanted sell sugared water the rest of his life or join him and change the world. These guys may indeed believe what they say but do the pressures of business and the demands of shareholders eventually steer them in a different direction? This all sounds altruistic but is it? Is it all just an act? Is Apple no different than Amazon in the end? Does it really all boil down to profit and not some lofty social motivation?

    Do you really think Cook has some kind of hidden malicious intent? Of course he wants Apple to be as healthy and successful as possible- and he's doing a fantastic job at that. That doesn't mean he doesn't ALSO believe that Apple can do alot of good in the world, and contribute in a ton of areas. And Apple is doing a fantastic job of that too. Yes, I do believe Cook believes what he says. I've been following him for a long time, have listened/read to every single interview and speech he's made, and have watched his public actions and what he's emphasized in Apple. He truly does seem like someone with a strong moral compass, he also happens to be excellent in his position and at running Apple. From what I've seen, so are the rest of Apple's executive team, like Schiller, Federighi, and Ive. 
    MacPromacky the mackywillettpscooter63propodStrangeDaysargonautjony0
  • Reply 5 of 25
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,132member
    Talk about putting a closing needle into the fully inflated balloon of inspiration:

    "Thank you, Tim, that was terrific."
    (In the most unconvincing voice possible.)

    Despite that anticlimactic remark by the announcer, it was truly a superb speech that preached the core values at Apple, which in turn should inspire all of us to seek great things that are beyond ourselves.   I think this is true even though I still feel Mr. Cook gets involved in political hot button issues a bit too much and should micromanage his engineering team more like Steve did, and he should do the right thing for humanity and restore the SD card in the 15" MacBook Pro in light of the fact that even the new iMacs have one. But if anything, that motivational speech may inspire some of us to break past our "what can I contribute?" fears, finally apply for a job at Apple, get hired, and then start to transform not only that company but the world. That's not possible at every company but it is at Apple.  

    Reach for the stars!
  • Reply 6 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,505member
    slurpy said:
    lkrupp said:
    You know, we’ve been programmed to be skeptical about the motives of large corporations. The ideology that says all corporations are evil at their core has taken hold in the culture. The rich are oppressing us. Billionaires are evil and made their money on the backs of the poor. Well you know the drill. So when Cook makes this speech my skeptical, cynical antenna got a tingle. I wonder if he really believes what he says. I always think back to Steve Jobs asking John Sculley whether he wanted sell sugared water the rest of his life or join him and change the world. These guys may indeed believe what they say but do the pressures of business and the demands of shareholders eventually steer them in a different direction? This all sounds altruistic but is it? Is it all just an act? Is Apple no different than Amazon in the end? Does it really all boil down to profit and not some lofty social motivation?

    Do you really think Cook has some kind of hidden malicious intent? Of course he wants Apple to be as healthy and successful as possible- and he's doing a fantastic job at that. That doesn't mean he doesn't ALSO believe that Apple can do alot of good in the world, and contribute in a ton of areas. And Apple is doing a fantastic job of that too. Yes, I do believe Cook believes what he says. I've been following him for a long time, have listened/read to every single interview and speech he's made, and have watched his public actions and what he's emphasized in Apple. He truly does seem like someone with a strong moral compass, he also happens to be excellent in his position and at running Apple. From what I've seen, so are the rest of Apple's executive team, like Schiller, Federighi, and Ive. 
    Couldn't agree more.
    willettpscooter63montrosemacsargonautjony0
  • Reply 7 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,505member

    lkrupp said:
    You know, we’ve been programmed to be skeptical about the motives of large corporations. The ideology that says all corporations are evil at their core has taken hold in the culture. The rich are oppressing us. Billionaires are evil and made their money on the backs of the poor. Well you know the drill. So when Cook makes this speech my skeptical, cynical antenna got a tingle. I wonder if he really believes what he says. I always think back to Steve Jobs asking John Sculley whether he wanted sell sugared water the rest of his life or join him and change the world. These guys may indeed believe what they say but do the pressures of business and the demands of shareholders eventually steer them in a different direction? This all sounds altruistic but is it? Is it all just an act? Is Apple no different than Amazon in the end? Does it really all boil down to profit and not some lofty social motivation?
    IMHO, no.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    fmalloyfmalloy Posts: 105member
    Sorry, it's a load of malarkey. When you get in a cap and gown in front of college grads, you spew a "do try to do good in this world" and "higher purpose" sticky sweet inspirational speech...then go back to your day job where you create walled gardens and locked-in ecosystems and licensed, proprietary connectors, control everything coming in and going out, make your 30% cut on apps and now we hear they want their 30% on WAITER'S TIPS given through apps! Create a payments system where - again - they want their cut. Steal other people's ideas and software and bake it into the OS, strong-arm, bully, or just buy out smaller companies that dare to compete, buy up all the supply of flash RAM, sue the hell out of anyone with an existing patent that dares to get in the way of your technology... Apple is like any other public, Wall Street driven company - profits rule at all costs. Apple stopped being the innovative underdog that everyone loved about 15 years ago. Now they're just the next evil 800 lb. gorilla leviathan corporation, and all the red-colored iPhones in the world isn't going to change that.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,291member
    fmalloy said:
    Sorry, it's a load of malarkey. When you get in a cap and gown in front of college grads, you spew a "do try to do good in this world" and "higher purpose" sticky sweet inspirational speech...then go back to your day job where you create walled gardens and locked-in ecosystems and licensed, proprietary connectors, control everything coming in and going out, make your 30% cut on apps and now we hear they want their 30% on WAITER'S TIPS given through apps! Create a payments system where - again - they want their cut. Steal other people's ideas and software and bake it into the OS, strong-arm, bully, or just buy out smaller companies that dare to compete, buy up all the supply of flash RAM, sue the hell out of anyone with an existing patent that dares to get in the way of your technology... Apple is like any other public, Wall Street driven company - profits rule at all costs. Apple stopped being the innovative underdog that everyone loved about 15 years ago. Now they're just the next evil 800 lb. gorilla leviathan corporation, and all the red-colored iPhones in the world isn't going to change that.
    I don't believe you realise most if not every single things you said are exactly the opposite of the truth. Unless you forgot /s at the end, it's safe to regard this as yet another trollish comment. Bravo.
    willettpscooter63argonaut
  • Reply 10 of 25
    fmalloy said:
    Sorry, it's a load of malarkey. When you get in a cap and gown in front of college grads, you spew a "do try to do good in this world" and "higher purpose" sticky sweet inspirational speech...then go back to your day job where you create walled gardens and locked-in ecosystems and licensed, proprietary connectors, control everything coming in and going out, make your 30% cut on apps and now we hear they want their 30% on WAITER'S TIPS given through apps! Create a payments system where - again - they want their cut. Steal other people's ideas and software and bake it into the OS, strong-arm, bully, or just buy out smaller companies that dare to compete, buy up all the supply of flash RAM, sue the hell out of anyone with an existing patent that dares to get in the way of your technology... Apple is like any other public, Wall Street driven company - profits rule at all costs. Apple stopped being the innovative underdog that everyone loved about 15 years ago. Now they're just the next evil 800 lb. gorilla leviathan corporation, and all the red-colored iPhones in the world isn't going to change that.
    You could have just said, "Promote World Peace" and saved you a whole load of words.

    cgWerksargonaut
  • Reply 11 of 25
    bobroobobroo Posts: 95member
    "higher purpose" = higher salary


    That was the motivation and hidden meaning working for Apple.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    LoneStar88LoneStar88 Posts: 325member
    I thought it was a good speech, apparently uncolored by any political bias. Tim is continuing to show that Steve chose the best possible steward of Apple's legacy and philosophy.

    I think Apple's continuing rising statistics are the best possible gauge of the enduring relevancy and validity of the purpose with which Steve endowed it.

    Apple's latest product and services offerings revealed at this year's WWDC also give me good hope for Apple's continued prosperity.
    Rayz2016pscooter63argonaut
  • Reply 13 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    bobroo said:
    "higher purpose" = higher salary


    That was the motivation and hidden meaning working for Apple.
    You do know he left Compaq (were he worked) that was flying high at that time hmm, for an Apple which was declared deadish (or dead if Jobs had not come back).
    pscooter63argonaut
  • Reply 14 of 25
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    fmalloy said:
    Sorry, it's a load of malarkey. When you get in a cap and gown in front of college grads, you spew a "do try to do good in this world" and "higher purpose" sticky sweet inspirational speech...then go back to your day job where you create walled gardens and locked-in ecosystems and licensed, proprietary connectors, control everything coming in and going out, make your 30% cut on apps and now we hear they want their 30% on WAITER'S TIPS given through apps! Create a payments system where - again - they want their cut. Steal other people's ideas and software and bake it into the OS, strong-arm, bully, or just buy out smaller companies that dare to compete, buy up all the supply of flash RAM, sue the hell out of anyone with an existing patent that dares to get in the way of your technology... Apple is like any other public, Wall Street driven company - profits rule at all costs. Apple stopped being the innovative underdog that everyone loved about 15 years ago. Now they're just the next evil 800 lb. gorilla leviathan corporation, and all the red-colored iPhones in the world isn't going to change that.
    Oh, cool it. There's nothing "evil" about making a lot of money by providing people something they want. Apple doesn't force anyone to use their products or services.
    pscooter63
  • Reply 15 of 25
    holyoneholyone Posts: 398member
    I thought it was a good speech, apparently uncolored by any political bias. Tim is continuing to show that Steve chose the best possible steward of Apple's legacy and philosophy.

    I think Apple's continuing rising statistics are the best possible gauge of the enduring relevancy and validity of the purpose with which Steve endowed it.

    Apple's latest product and services offerings revealed at this year's WWDC also give me good hope for Apple's continued prosperity.

    Every time Tim speaks like this it feels to me as though he's using his position at Apple to fight some deep personal, humanitarian great oppression of .... Who ever, and this is always lumped together as values shared by SJ, and resoned as why Steve chose him to run Apple so he can turn it into a platform for his personal crusade.

     Don't get me wrong I'm all for Apple and their environmental efforts, but it always sounds to me like that's not all Tim is talking about, when Steve talked about bettering  the world he was trying to do so thru great technology which from any other company would be luxurious objects  inaccessible to the masses, my concern with Tim's Apple besides it bieng an innovations company not ran by an innovative person :/ is this,

     Steve was a difficult person to work with, this is well known, but he was godly talented and attracted similarly talented people who could never be able to be in the same room let alone work together, but because they all cared deeply about what they were there to do ( the product ) that Apple was a collection of maybe not the nicest of people, like the CEO, but like him, were the greatest at what they were there for ( the product ), I mean how the hell could a person like Ive ever work with such a too passionate, over controlling, foul mouthed mad man that was Steve ?

     Tim seems to have amassed a collection of yes man who first have to some how align with his personal views on things that have nothing to do with a technology company, It seems to me that he intends to use Apple as some kind humanitarian bat to wrong what ever he deems to be the great wrongs he's experienced in his life, or he sees in the political world, but this should have nothing to do with Apple.

     Look I'm not saying Apple should not be active in pursuing the ( good of all ) but that isn't a universally agreeable thing, but the world is made of many different opinions and points of views and this diversity is inherent and good and the highest calling of leadership is to foster tolerance amount different people coming from different backgrounds for the sake of the work (the product) and co-operation, this man is acting as though Apple is his, and he gets to change what it's soul and inner core is, if a very talented person looking for work and could really do great things at Apple but voted for Trump does anyone think that they'd consider Apple ?, if this was Steve it would be very well his prerogative he not only founded Apple but also saved it too. People always think that Steve choose Tim because he was the best but he didnt. Steve never expected to die when he did, does any one believe that if Steve instead just retired when he died that he'd still would have left the company to Tim ? and does anyone think that Tim would be involving Apple in things outside its work if Steve was watching ?

     When Steve started to accepted that he wouldn't live for long he had to make quick desicions for the future of Apple and do the best with what he had available to him, it wasn't an un forced-choice, in his position what would anyone do ? Bring some one totally new (Sully) ?, or Phill, ? Crag ? , Tim was the best available but certainly not the most suitable IMHO.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 16 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    holyone said:
    I thought it was a good speech, apparently uncolored by any political bias. Tim is continuing to show that Steve chose the best possible steward of Apple's legacy and philosophy.

    I think Apple's continuing rising statistics are the best possible gauge of the enduring relevancy and validity of the purpose with which Steve endowed it.

    Apple's latest product and services offerings revealed at this year's WWDC also give me good hope for Apple's continued prosperity.

    Every time Tim speaks like this it feels to me as though he's using his position at Apple to fight some deep personal, humanitarian great oppression of .... Who ever, and this is always lumped together as values shared by SJ, and resoned as why Steve chose him to run Apple so he can turn it into a platform for his personal crusade.

     Don't get me wrong I'm all for Apple and their environmental efforts, but it always sounds to me like that's not all Tim is talking about, when Steve talked about bettering  the world he was trying to do so thru great technology which from any other company would be luxurious objects  inaccessible to the masses, my concern with Tim's Apple besides it bieng an innovations company not ran by an innovative person :/ is this,

     Steve was a difficult person to work with, this is well known, but he was godly talented and attracted similarly talented people who could never be able to be in the same room let alone work together, but because they all cared deeply about what they were there to do ( the product ) that Apple was a collection of maybe not the nicest of people, like the CEO, but like him, were the greatest at what they were there for ( the product ), I mean how the hell could a person like Ive ever work with such a too passionate, over controlling, foul mouthed mad man that was Steve ?

     Tim seems to have amassed a collection of yes man who first have to some how align with his personal views on things that have nothing to do with a technology company, It seems to me that he intends to use Apple as some kind humanitarian bat to wrong what ever he deems to be the great wrongs he's experienced in his life, or he sees in the political world, but this should have nothing to do with Apple.

     Look I'm not saying Apple should not be active in pursuing the ( good of all ) but that isn't a universally agreeable thing, but the world is made of many different opinions and points of views and this diversity is inherent and good and the highest calling of leadership is to foster tolerance amount different people coming from different backgrounds for the sake of the work (the product) and co-operation, this man is acting as though Apple is his, and he gets to change what it's soul and inner core is, if a very talented person looking for work and could really do great things at Apple but voted for Trump does anyone think that they'd consider Apple ?, if this was Steve it would be very well his prerogative he not only founded Apple but also saved it too. People always think that Steve choose Tim because he was the best but he didnt. Steve never expected to die when he did, does any one believe that if Steve instead just retired when he died that he'd still would have left the company to Tim ? and does anyone think that Tim would be involving Apple in things outside its work if Steve was watching ?

     When Steve started to accepted that he wouldn't live for long he had to make quick desicions for the future of Apple and do the best with what he had available to him, it wasn't an un forced-choice, in his position what would anyone do ? Bring some one totally new (Sully) ?, or Phill, ? Crag ? , Tim was the best available but certainly not the most suitable IMHO.
    Cook had already been acting CEO for quite awhile (first health hiatus); it wasn't a spur of the moment decision.
    You mean there was no way to find a CEO other than Cook in 4-5 years and that's why he's there? Makes no sense buddy.

    Cook was a crucial hire of Jobs to fix the utter mess of a supply chain that meant Apple was bleeding cash even when it was selling decently.

    Jobs was initially reticent in fully embracing the ecosystem that now defined Apple. Cook was already in the mix when decisions relating to that were made.
    If anything, Apple's current explosive success is as much Cook's responsibility than Jobs.



    pscooter63propodargonaut
  • Reply 17 of 25
    Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday delivered the 2017 commencement address for students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in which he claimed that joining Apple gave him fundamental meaning in his life.




    "I tried meditation. I sought guidance and religion. I read great philosophers and authors. In a moment of youthful indiscretion, I might even have experimented with a Windows PC. And obviously that didn't work," Cook said about his time before Apple. Prior to being recruited by Steve Jobs in 1998, Cook worked at two major PC companies, IBM and Compaq.

    Cook said that after Jobs brought him onboard, he "finally felt aligned" with a company that "brought together challenging, cutting edge work with a higher purpose," as well as "a leader who believed that technology which didn't exist yet could reinvent tomorrow's world." He also credited the work with satisfying a personal need to "serve something greater."

    "I was never going to find my purpose working some place without a clear sense of purpose of its own," Cook added. "Steve and Apple freed me to throw myself into the work and embrace their mission and make it my own. How can I serve humanity? This is life's biggest and most important question."



    The executive lastly suggested that if graduates pursue a similar path, humanity has an optimistic outlook.

    "Always remember there is no idea bigger than this: as Dr. Martin Luther King said, we are all bound together in a single garment of destiny. If you keep that idea at the forefront of all that you do, if you choose to live your lives at that intersection between technology and the people it serves, if you strive to create the best, give the best, and do the best for everyone -- not just for some -- then today all of humanity has good cause for hope."

    Cook toured the MIT campus on Thursday, meeting students and faculty. A number of Apple workers are MIT graduates.

    The CEO has delivered other commencement speeches in the past, reaching as far back as his start with Apple as senior VP of worldwide operations.
    This reminds me of a sarcastic comment David Lee Roth made in the 80s that God spoke to him one day and told him to go forth and make a million dollars.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,843member
    "I tried meditation. I sought guidance and religion. I read great philosophers and authors.... 
    I suppose this was just the opener to a joke? Tim, Tim... there's a whole world out there beyond Oprah and Deepak Chopra (a much better and more substantial one, too).

    In regard to some of the other comments, I guess at least this last WWDC Keynote has given me back a speck of hope in Apple (way better than dancing emojis at least). But, IMO, there are still a lot of problems left to fix.

    But, I'm sorry, I still see a core difference between the old Apple and the new, and it comes down to:
    old: products and UX job #1 --> huge profits
    new: huge profits job #1 --> fun while it lasts

    Apple needs to get back to caring about UX/UI and making the best products, and ditch the 'serving humanity' fluff talk.
    holyone
  • Reply 19 of 25
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 244member
    "How can I serve humanity? This is life's biggest and most important question."

    Really Tim?  Says who?  Why?

    I get you're speaking at a graduation ceremony, and what you say is going to be full of fluff.  But if you're half serious about this particular conclusion on life, I feel sorry for you.
    cgWerksholyone
  • Reply 20 of 25
    bobroobobroo Posts: 95member
    foggyhill said:
    bobroo said:
    "higher purpose" = higher salary


    That was the motivation and hidden meaning working for Apple.
    You do know he left Compaq (were he worked) that was flying high at that time hmm, for an Apple which was declared deadish (or dead if Jobs had not come back).
    If you were to say "Prove it Tim, give us back all the money and stock options you've made at Apple over your tenure. Meanwhile, we want you to stay at your position and responsibilities without salary-- cause you were a wealthy man before you came here and this Apple business is all a 'making the world a better place' thingy." 

    I'm sure he would be scurrying around the Infinite Loop looking for every empty copy paper box he could find to clean out his desk by Monday.




    holyone
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