Tim Cook Duke commencement calls out to Steve Jobs, urges grads to think different

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 13
Apple CEO Tim Cook returned to his Alma Mater Duke for the commencement speech for the 2018 graduates, and left to a standing ovation.

Tim Cook at Duke


Cook addressed many topics, ranging from climate change, Apple's use of renewable energy, and issued a clarion call to graduates to leave the world better than they found it.

Hard to believe it's been nearly 30 years since I was celebrating with my @DukeU classmates and these lifelong friends. I'm honored to join the #Duke2018 Commencement today! pic.twitter.com/biPQ7taE8S

-- Tim Cook (@tim_cook)


While not an overt call back to Apple's late-'90s advertising slogan, Cook still called on graduates to "think different" and not just accept how things are.

"Don't just accept the world you inherit. Don't just accept the status quo," said Cook. "No big challenge has ever been solved, and no lasting improvement has been achieved, unless people dare to try something different. Dare to think different."

Congratulations and thank you to the @DukeU class of 2018! Graduates, be fearless! pic.twitter.com/XeDV9seX0E

-- Tim Cook (@tim_cook)


As with most of Cook's speeches, he invoked Steve Jobs, and thanked the Apple founder for his vision.

"I was lucky to learn from someone who believed this deeply. Someone who knew changing the world starts with following a vision, not following a path," reminisced Cook. "He was my friend, my mentor, Steve Jobs. Steve's vision was that the great idea comes from a restless refusal to accept things as they are."

"The question we ask ourselves is not what can we do, but what should we do. Because Steve taught us that's how change happens. And from him I leaned to never be content with the way things are," said Cook. "I believe this mindset comes naturally to young people -- and you should never let go of this restlessness."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 703member
    Awesome speech Mr Cook!
  • Reply 2 of 27
    FolioFolio Posts: 382member
    Another angle, from Bloomberg, with CEO again distinguishing Apple from the rest of tech pack on privacy:

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/apple-ceo-lauds-gun-control-161149072.html

    As intelligent assistants, which have languished for years, will suddenly become smarter faster than most expect, and be (for many) constant over-the-shoulder companions, this is probably a wise tactic by Cook. 
  • Reply 3 of 27
    hodarhodar Posts: 237member
    Timmy, instead of taking credit for Job's work, why not establish some "visionary" work yourself? Siri, once the stand-out, visionary leader - is nearly dead-last. Frankly, it sucks. Your watch has 8 boring faces. Mac Mini has been bastardized and abandoned. The Mac Pro, once an example of design, is abandoned. Apple is HUGE!! Surely you can work on more than 1 thing at a time. Yes, your new speaker sounds good, but it's hamstrung by Siri (did I mention it still sucks?). The Apple watch is coming out with new "limited edition bands" for $250+, so friggin what? How many people buy those, when a functional band works just as well for 10% that cost. Leather is NOT a luxury item, you do know it comes from cows, right? How about you quit with the politics and alienating 50% of your customer base, and focus on the product instead? Jobs shared many of your same political viewpoints, yet managed to keep out of politics and ran a company very, very well. Perhaps you should take a que, as Apple's stock has been pretty stagnant in comparison since you took the helm. There is so much work to be done (Mac line is old, obsolete - AppleTV line is woefully ignored, Apple Watch has so much undeveloped potential, wtf is going on with Siri and why have you allowed Google to kick your butt? Ipads are practically a commodity, yet the advancements in the iPhone are not migrating to the iPad. iPad Pro is vitually dead, why? Focus on your key businesses.
    bloggerblogLatkoSpamSandwichh2p
  • Reply 4 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    hodar said:
    How about you quit with the politics and alienating 50% of your customer base
    More ‘liberals’ use Apple products than ‘conservatives’, and please don’t fall for false dichotomies in the first place. The public perception of what politics “is” is one of the most egregiously wrong perception/reality differences out there today.
    iPad Pro is vitually dead, why? Focus on your key businesses.
    People shouldn’t expect Tim Cook to be what he isn’t. Jobs didn’t pick him because he was another Jobs. We shouldn’t expect from him the sorts of change we saw from Jobs. That doesn’t just go for “Cook having ideas like Jobs did”, it goes for “Cook hiring people like Jobs did” and even “Cook hiring people like Jobs himself was.” It’s just not going to happen–it’s outside the physical realm of expectation–and so expecting it to happen is silly.
    edited May 13 chasmmacxpresscornchipGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 5 of 27
    mike54mike54 Posts: 253member
    Tim Cook should show how to not update products for years and sell them for the same release price, and at the same time saying 'we care'.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    chasmchasm Posts: 838member
    How can Apple be "alienating 50 percent of its customer base" and still breaking sales records, winning new converts from PC and Android, dominating every category it competes in, disrupting entire industries, and the most valuable company ever in the history of the world, on track to break the $1T valuation barrier?

    Methinks your logic (not to mention your stats) are more broken than any of Apple's alleged "failures," though I (and Tim) would agree there are areas where the company can certainly do better.

    Let's wait and see what WWDC brings, but it might be useful for Mac-oriented users like yourself (apparently) to bear in mind that Macs are less than 10 percent of Apple's business these days -- nearly every other hardware product Apple sells outsells the Mac. This is a disquieting notion to some of us, but we should not shy away from facing up to the truth -- and the truth is that the Mac actually gets more than the attention its sales figures deserve, but of course a lot less that it did when it was Apple's leading product (I'll bet the iPod lover crowd feels the same way ...).

    This is not (much) the fault of former or present Apple leadership (you may remember that it was Jobs that rebranded Apple as a consumer company, not just a computer company) -- it is more the shift by consumers generally away from "traditional" computing. It's very unsurprising to me that desktops are dying off; MBP-type notebooks will likely follow that path in due course. The truth is that 95+ percent of the public has zero need for either device -- a Chromebook-like limited laptop or an iPad with a keyboard covers (or soon will cover) the needs of a typical non-power-user.
    Solijony0h2p
  • Reply 7 of 27
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    1) Jobs was a visionary, I don't think anyone would deny that. I also think it's arguable that no one else could've turned Apple around, but I also think it's arguable that without Jobs having Cook there's no way Apple could've grown at the level they did or operate as efficiently, all of which have led to their amazing success as a company. An idea without execution is a fruitless endeavour. As it's already been stated, Jobs picked Cook for a reason.

    2) I'm not a fan of the think different mentality. I'm a fan of what Jobs said in a Q&A months before the "Think different" campaign launched. As I recall, it was a Macworld Expo circa 1997 when one guy asked him about Apple dropping AppleTalk in favor of Ethernet. This gentleman made a comment about Apple thinking different and clearly didn't care for Apple falling in line with the rest of the industry for networking. Jobs replied something to the fact, "It's not about thinking different, it's about thinking better. If there's a better option out there we'll use it." Being different for its own sake will ultimately lead to failure. (I'll see if I can find the clip.)


    edit: Go to 12m:17s for the specific part I'm referring in the gentleman's follow up question. His first question is at 09m:25s where Jobs then references networking.




    Bonus: Right before he takes that guy's question Jobs states that when the media shorts Apple that he buys AAPL stock.
    edited May 13 macxpressdewmepscooter63
  • Reply 8 of 27
    jony0jony0 Posts: 267member
    "The question we ask ourselves is not what can we do, but what should we do. […] " said Cook.
    And there lies IMHO one of the differences between the ethos of two great tech behemoths. In light of the recent Google Duplex phone call to book a haircut, and in retrospect the Google Glass of a few years back, along with the 2004 Google Books initiative, as impressive as they are, these projects seem to lean more towards :
           “The question we ask ourselves is not what should we do, but what can we do.”
    This is just a personal impression, not a judgement. Although admittedly I do have some reservations about their respective disingenuousness, creepiness and copyright issues, I do appreciate the technical merits of these endeavours and what possible advancement they can bring.
    edited May 13 cornchiph2p
  • Reply 9 of 27
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    Key to the 'Think Different' thing is the 'think' part. Most of our society today is just different for different's sake (think, rebellious child). We need to put a bit more emphasis on that think part.

    tallest skil said:
    That doesn’t just go for “Cook having ideas like Jobs did”, it goes for “Cook hiring people like Jobs did” and even “Cook hiring people like Jobs himself was.” It’s just not going to happen–it’s outside the physical realm of expectation–and so expecting it to happen is silly.
    I'd settle for.... here's the foundation Steve laid, let's work to stick to those principals.

    mike54 said:
    Tim Cook should show how to not update products for years and sell them for the same release price, and at the same time saying 'we care'.
    It's just brand momentum. Any big company can do this for a time. It's usually a sign of the start of their demise, though.

    chasm said:
    How can Apple be "alienating 50 percent of its customer base" and still breaking sales records, winning new converts from PC and Android, dominating every category it competes in, disrupting entire industries, and the most valuable company ever in the history of the world, on track to break the $1T valuation barrier?
    Because most of us don't boycott a company just because the leadership hold an opposing value, or sometimes even act on it.

    chasm said:
    ... but it might be useful for Mac-oriented users like yourself (apparently) to bear in mind that Macs are less than 10 percent of Apple's business these days -- nearly every other hardware product Apple sells outsells the Mac.
    I'm getting really sick of this one. Who cares, and what does that matter? Is that supposed to be a legitimate excuse for the state of the Mac lineup? Seriously?
    Can Apple only work on one thing at a time? Also, while Macs might only be 10 percent of Apple's business, they are far more than 10% in terms of importance.

    chasm said:
    ... it is more the shift by consumers generally away from "traditional" computing. It's very unsurprising to me that desktops are dying off; MBP-type notebooks will likely follow that path in due course. The truth is that 95+ percent of the public has zero need for either device -- a Chromebook-like limited laptop or an iPad with a keyboard covers (or soon will cover) the needs of a typical non-power-user.
    But, I thought they were all going to be YouTube stars... Coders... VR/AR people... scientists, etc.
    Again, I'm not sure what this has to do with a languishing Mac lineup. If Apple really believes the Mac is over, then let us all know so we can move on.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Soli said:
    ...months before the "Think different" campaign… This gentleman made a comment about Apple thinking different… Jobs replied something to the fact, "It's not about thinking different…
    I love those early transition keynotes where Jobs would take questions from devs and then speak “off the cuff” about various topics. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy’s comment was the catalyst for Jobs thinking about creating the “think different” campaign in the first place. I vaguely remember (in that I remember it happening but not the thing that happened specifically) seeing this happen with something else. I could tell that Jobs was moved by whatever the question was and that right before his response was the point at which he started thinking about the topic seriously (or differently).

    It’s sort of a shame they died out, and it’s a shame that the last conference only similar to that was whatever the one was with Steve and Tim on bar stools taking questions when there was a problem with a product (I think… was it Antennagate?).
  • Reply 11 of 27
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,098member
    Soli said:
    1) Jobs was a visionary, I don't think anyone would deny that. I also think it's arguable that no one else could've turned Apple around, but I also think it's arguable that with Jobs having Cook there's no way Apple could've grown at the level they did or source components as efficiently, all of which have led to their amazing success as a company. A idea without execution is a fruitless endeavour. As it's already been stated, Jobs picks Cook for a reason.

    2) I'm not a fan of the think different mentality. I'm a fan of what Jobs said in a Q&A months before the "Think different" campaign launched. As I recall, it was a Macworld Expo circa 1997 when one guy asked him about Apple dropping AppleTalk in favor of Ethernet. This gentleman made a comment about Apple thinking different and clearly didn't are for Apple falling in line with the rest of the industry for networking. Jobs replied something to the fact, "It's not about thinking different, it's about thinking better. If there's a better option out there we'll use it." Being different for its own sake will ultimately lead to failure. (I'll see if I can find the clip.)


    edit: Go to 12m:17s for the specific part I'm referring. Note that it's the guy's follow up question which starts a couple minutes early at 09m:25s where Jobs references networking.




     Bonus: Right before he takes that guy's question Jobs states that when the media shorts Apple that he buys AAPL stock.
    That whole Q&A was one of Jobs’ most brilliant moments. I go back and watch it from time to time. In fact I’m going to do it now even though I just watched it again not that long ago.
    Soli
  • Reply 12 of 27
    columbuscolumbus Posts: 281member
    I think Apple should look at doing something to support this Your Phone, mostly for the benefit of their customers, but also as a good will gesture towards Microsoft.

  • Reply 13 of 27
    asciiascii Posts: 5,845member
    I think it's a good message, sometimes things in society do need to change. But it's not a good message for young people. Because some things that seem stupid, outmoded or arbitrary to young people actually aren't, they just haven't had enough life experience yet to see why those things are needed, and revolutions by the young tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    But for people like Cook with a lifetime of judgment to draw on, and an ability to see what things are fine and what things could do with tweaking, and how not to throw out the baby, it's a good message. It's more something he should say to himself in the mirror rather than deliver at a graduation.

    Also, every thread seems to have a Siri-bashing post these days. Remember where machine learning came from, it arose out of big data, so it was kind of inevitable that Google (*the* big data company) would quickly take the lead in this area. The fact that Siri is behind does not necessarily mean Apple execs did a bad job.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 14 of 27
    LatkoLatko Posts: 122member
    I hope a new generation’s inspiration goes furher than stowing the planet full of the same shaped iDevices, around an ecosystem invented by his predecessor. Did some undergrads actually inspire Tim to better keyboards, a Retina screen for MacBook Air, and updates to introduce functionality instead of instablility ?
    edited May 14
  • Reply 15 of 27
    Soli said:
    1) Jobs was a visionary, I don't think anyone would deny that. I also think it's arguable that no one else could've turned Apple around, but I also think it's arguable that without Jobs having Cook there's no way Apple could've grown at the level they did or operate as efficiently, all of which have led to their amazing success as a company. An idea without execution is a fruitless endeavour. As it's already been stated, Jobs picked Cook for a reason.

    2) I'm not a fan of the think different mentality. I'm a fan of what Jobs said in a Q&A months before the "Think different" campaign launched. As I recall, it was a Macworld Expo circa 1997 when one guy asked him about Apple dropping AppleTalk in favor of Ethernet. This gentleman made a comment about Apple thinking different and clearly didn't care for Apple falling in line with the rest of the industry for networking. Jobs replied something to the fact, "It's not about thinking different, it's about thinking better. If there's a better option out there we'll use it." Being different for its own sake will ultimately lead to failure. (I'll see if I can find the clip.)


    edit: Go to 12m:17s for the specific part I'm referring in the gentleman's follow up question. His first question is at 09m:25s where Jobs then references networking.




    Bonus: Right before he takes that guy's question Jobs states that when the media shorts Apple that he buys AAPL stock.
    I think you have just coined the magic that is Apples success. There are two sides to the coin. "The think different" which really means thinking "what should we do" vs "what could we do". The other side of the coin is execution and taking it to the limit in every "possible" way (possible is Apples version of the terms meaning in this case). Apple is about balance. "What we can do" refers to emotional side while "what we should do" is all about the pure reality and reasoning/logics analysis and risk assesment in a more "risky" way thank most corporations really like to work. They just try to minimize the risk involved in taking the higher more demanding route.

    Apples "after Jobs era" I see that the value is shifting here a bit towards the more traditional corporate risk taking values (still not at the same level yet though) and weight is not equaly distributed in a balanced way on what in "we can do/what should do" vs executional perfection with the later getting more and more attention at the loss of the other. I think Jobs best qualities were vision and strategic ability and keeping difficult things as simple as possible. The first iteration of apple cloud services was a good example of how not to do it and Jobs ultimately took the initiative to fix it. The problem after Jobs is that things are getting too complex and really need simplification. The icloud is a good example of how difficult things are to use now.  

  • Reply 16 of 27
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,577member
    You know its really amazing how we can take something so nice and try to inspire the next generation of folks into the world and have a few people here just constantly shit all over everything Tim does because their god damn Mac mini or Mac Pro isn't out yet. You people are just sick. I wish this was all we had to worry about in life was a computer being released....
    edited May 14 lkrupp
  • Reply 17 of 27
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,893member
    cornchip said:
    Soli said:
    1) Jobs was a visionary, I don't think anyone would deny that. I also think it's arguable that no one else could've turned Apple around, but I also think it's arguable that with Jobs having Cook there's no way Apple could've grown at the level they did or source components as efficiently, all of which have led to their amazing success as a company. A idea without execution is a fruitless endeavour. As it's already been stated, Jobs picks Cook for a reason.

    2) I'm not a fan of the think different mentality. I'm a fan of what Jobs said in a Q&A months before the "Think different" campaign launched. As I recall, it was a Macworld Expo circa 1997 when one guy asked him about Apple dropping AppleTalk in favor of Ethernet. This gentleman made a comment about Apple thinking different and clearly didn't are for Apple falling in line with the rest of the industry for networking. Jobs replied something to the fact, "It's not about thinking different, it's about thinking better. If there's a better option out there we'll use it." Being different for its own sake will ultimately lead to failure. (I'll see if I can find the clip.)


    edit: Go to 12m:17s for the specific part I'm referring. Note that it's the guy's follow up question which starts a couple minutes early at 09m:25s where Jobs references networking.




     Bonus: Right before he takes that guy's question Jobs states that when the media shorts Apple that he buys AAPL stock.
    That whole Q&A was one of Jobs’ most brilliant moments. I go back and watch it from time to time. In fact I’m going to do it now even though I just watched it again not that long ago.
    Mostly it was about tactics to get to where he wanted to go -- minor details.

    But, he did express his basic philosophy that drove everything (to paraphrase):
    "It's about caring deeply about making products that people like".

    Tim Shares that same secret sauce.
    It's not about (just) "thinking different".  Dying your hair purple gets you nowhere.
    It's not (just) about creating a better gadget.   Everybody does that -- or tries to.
    ....  Both are merely tactics to help get you there...

    It's really one thing:   Caring deeply.  
    Caring is not only what enabled Steve to produce great products, it is why his presentations were so great -- his caring spilled over into pride and joy in his product.  It wasn't that Steve was a great showman.   His caring and his passion spilled out for all to see...

  • Reply 18 of 27
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,687member
    Soli said:
    1) Jobs was a visionary, I don't think anyone would deny that. I also think it's arguable that no one else could've turned Apple around, but I also think it's arguable that without Jobs having Cook there's no way Apple could've grown at the level they did or operate as efficiently, all of which have led to their amazing success as a company. An idea without execution is a fruitless endeavour. As it's already been stated, Jobs picked Cook for a reason.

    Totally agree on point 1. Geoffrey A. Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" is the standard reference that articulates this growth and evolution process in great detail. What's kind of interesting to speculate about is what would have happened had Tim Cook been at Steve Jobs' side during Steve's first tenure at Apple? Would Tim have been the right guy at that time or did Steve have to wander in the wilderness for a period of time before returning to eventually triumph in Apple's resurgence? As much as I admire the analysis and pragmatism of "Crossing the Chasm" very few things in business are formulaic or plug & play. The Apple board probably thought they'd figured out how to cross the chasm by foisting Sculley on Jobs but he was neither the right fit nor there at the right time to take Apple over the chasm and up the curve. Fortunately, the later combination of an older and wiser Steve Jobs and the right fit with Tim Cook set Apple on the amazing course it is on today.

    The most important challenge for Tim Cook going forward is to find or develop a successor who will get Apple back on the entrepreneurial part of the curve with a whole new series of products & services. Apple has to be very careful that its current position and financial resources do not create an illusion or false sense of security that Apple has an unlimited runway for getting new products off the ground, over the chasm, and up the adoption and growth curve. I sense that this may be happening to some degree when even smaller scale and more easily attainable launches like the charging pad drag on for (subjectively) too long. In Apple's case money is not a problem but time delays create more opportunity for disruptors to wedge their way into Apple's grand plans. The far end of the seemingly endless runway inspired by a quest for perfection and paid for with unlimited cash resources may already be cratered by unforeseen competitors who are currently being viewed as ankle biters. 
  • Reply 19 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,399member
    macxpress said:
    You know its really amazing how we can take something so nice and try to inspire the next generation of folks into the world and have a few people here just constantly shit all over everything Tim does because their god damn Mac mini or Mac Pro isn't out yet. You people are just sick. I wish this was all we had to worry about in life was a computer being released....
    The Internet is 99% negative and this is caused by the anonymity of users. They are free to vent their frustration and rage over anything. They post things they would never ever say at a public meeting or to friends. I personally have been in a situation face-to-face where the other guy was itching for an argument over Macs vs PCs and simply not responding to the bait shut it down. Not so in forums where anonymous posters can attack each other mostly with impunity.
    macxpress
  • Reply 20 of 27
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    ascii said:
    I think it's a good message, sometimes things in society do need to change. But it's not a good message for young people. Because some things that seem stupid, outmoded or arbitrary to young people actually aren't, they just haven't had enough life experience yet to see why those things are needed, and revolutions by the young tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    Well said. Or, another way to put it... there is a delicate balance between conservatism and liberalism, and when we're young, we often haven't developed an appreciation for the wisdom of the shoulders we're standing on. But, then as we get older, too many seem to stick irrationally to old, bad ideas, while others are (too) open to change, never having developed critical thinking skills... thus we have staunch conservatives and staunch liberals.

    ascii said:
    Also, every thread seems to have a Siri-bashing post these days. Remember where machine learning came from, it arose out of big data, so it was kind of inevitable that Google (*the* big data company) would quickly take the lead in this area. The fact that Siri is behind does not necessarily mean Apple execs did a bad job.
    I disagree here. There's a big difference between what can be done with big-data (which maybe Apple doesn't have) in terms of marketing to people or discovering certain things about them.... and sheer incompetence of relatively simple (in comparison) things like search technology. Siri doesn't just fail when it doesn't have similar data that Google might have, it fails on basic stuff that needs no such data.

    Habi_tweet said:
    The first iteration of apple cloud services was a good example of how not to do it and Jobs ultimately took the initiative to fix it. The problem after Jobs is that things are getting too complex and really need simplification. The icloud is a good example of how difficult things are to use now.   
    Does anyone happen to know if it was Jobs' decision not to have a user-accessible file-system on iOS? That seems like something Jobs would champion, which I'll admit has been one of the biggest problems with iOS until recently. But, yea, iCloud was initially a huge disaster (though it still isn't all that great).
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