Tim Cook and his intuition — Apple CEO — A Decade after

Steve Jobs and Tim Cook

The year was 1998. Tim Cook was on the fast track, recently recruited as a top executive at the world’s largest personal computer company. But that company wasn’t Apple. His employer at the time was Compaq, which was much bigger then, and seemed maybe a better bet to be a big 21st century success story. A decision Tim Cook took at that time based on logic plus intuition led to some very interesting outcomes and made Apple the world’s most valued company today at $2.3 Trillion.

We’ve learned a lot about former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s personality over the years. But his successor, Tim Cook, is still largely an unknown. Later this summer (He was made the chief executive on August 24, 2011), Cook will mark a decade as Apple’s CEO, but when he first joined Apple in 1998, almost everything we think of today was still in the future: iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, the App Store, the MacBook, the iMac desktop computer.

So, what drove Cook to leave Compaq and join Steve Jobs at Apple? It’s an interesting example of weaving logic and intuition. Any purely rational consideration of cost and benefits lined up in Compaq’s favor, and even one CEO Cook consulted felt so strongly about it and told him he would be a fool to leave Compaq for Apple. But Cook went to work for Steve Jobs and Apple. Cook explained his thinking in his Auburn University Commencement Speech in 2010:

Word Cloud of Cook speech, Auburn, May 2010-intuition mentioned 15 times

“There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate–when a particular course of action just feels right. And interestingly I’ve discovered it’s in facing life’s most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable to getting it right.

On that day in early 1998 I listened to my intuition, not the left side of my brain or for that matter even the people who knew me best. It’s hard to know why I listened, I’m not even sure I know today, but no more than five minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple.”

If our decision making is limited to lining up costs and benefits, we give away any advantage we might have by being bold or intuitive. But if we’re smart enough, and bold enough, we should trust our intuition.

The right side of our brain knows things, even if we can’t quite explain why.

Credits:

 by the author.

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srinivasan sankar

srinivasan sankar

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