It isn’t often that we get a look at the inner workings of Apple – a company that is incredibly secretive about its operations. But the question “What is it like to work with Tim Cook?” was posted to Q&A website Quora awhile back, and surprisingly enough, several Apple employees posted candid and insightful responses. Speaking under the guise of anonymity, their answers peel off just a sliver of the veil of secrecy that surrounds the Cupertino tech giant, and give us a glimpse of what it is like to work directly with the boss himself.
The first person to answer the question appears to be a former Apple employee, as he or she speaks about their experience with Cook in the past tense. They claim to have reported directly to Tim himself, and sat in on weekly revenue review meetings. In other words, whoever composed this response worked very closely with Apple’s chief at some point, and was able to make some solid observations about how he operates. The ex-Apple staffer offers five specific points about Tim. They are as follows:
- No one knows the detail of their business better than Tim. And you’d better know the detail of your part of his business as well.
- Your life is your work. Your work is your life. There is no such thing as work – life balance.
- There is no time for small talk, only purposeful communication in small bite-sized pieces.
- Charm is for bracelets.
- Building your career through job changes makes you a job hopper (read: untrustworthy). Endurance rules.
Some of those observations are echoed in the posts from the other two Apple employees who responded to the question as well, although a good portion of their answers are dedicated to comparing Cook with his predecessor – Steve Jobs. They say that Cook – like Jobs before him – has a penchant for working long hours, and is usually in the office before just about anyone else. He also expects, as did Jobs, that Apple employees dedicate their lives to their work, and should be ready to respond to an email or phone call at nearly any hour of the day or night. One of the employees said:
“… when you’re working on something critical he expects that you do too. That means that when he sends you an email at 5am that demands a response, if it’s not returned quickly he lets it be known that he expects more.”
The other respondent agrees, although he still says that the situation is better now than it was under Jobs:
“Yes, Tim wakes up really early and is very well capable of expecting you to reply back before the sun comes up. But I don’t think there is a difference there. When Steve used to be on a roll a couple of years back, you’d rather not go home to sleep, forget about an early morning e-mail.”
All of the respondents paint an image of a man who is very passionate and driven with his work, and expects his employees to be as well. That sounds exactly like every great CEO that I’ve ever know, or have read about in the past. They are a rare breed who have high expectations of themselves, and those that they work with, and I’m not surprised in the least that Tim Cook has those qualities too. Not only has he done an admirable job of steering Apple over the past few years, but he and Steve Jobs were close friends as well. That tells me that the two men shared a vision for the company, and they understood effort it would take to get it to where it is now, a tech juggernaut that continues to make innovative products that have an impact on the world. In the process, they also managed to make it the most valuable company on the planet too.