Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, the authors of the upcoming book Becoming Steve Jobs, have published an interview with Tim Cook on Fast Company. I've highlighted a few parts below and added some related material, but be sure to put the full interview on your reading list. All quotes are Tim Cook unless otherwise indicated.
On not accepting the status quo:
Steve felt that most people live in a small box. They think they can’t influence or change things a lot. I think he would probably call that a limited life. And more than anybody I’ve ever met, Steve never accepted that.
He got each of us [his top executives] to reject that philosophy. If you can do that, then you can change things. If you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world.
Steve Jobs: "Life can be much broader once you recover one simple fact."
On making the best, not the most:
There’s this thing in technology, almost a disease, where the definition of success is making the most. How many clicks did you get, how many active users do you have, how many units did you sell? Everybody in technology seems to want big numbers. Steve never got carried away with that. He focused on making the best.
Steve Jobs: "We just can't ship junk."
On being first:
We weren’t first on the MP3 player; we weren’t first on the tablet; we weren’t first on the smartphone. But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch—the first one that matters.
Steve Ballmer (at 1:09 mark): "Right now we are selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year. Apple is selling zero phones a year."
On skepticism around the usefulness of Apple Watch:
people didn’t realize they had to have an iPod, and they really didn’t realize they had to have the iPhone. And the iPad was totally panned. Critics asked, "Why do you need this?" Honestly, I don’t think anything revolutionary that we have done was predicted to be a hit when released. It was only in retrospect that people could see its value.
Me in a recent post: "The new 'Why do I need an iPhone?' is 'Why do I need an Apple Watch?'"
On change and Steve Jobs' legacy:
We change every day. We changed every day when he was here, and we’ve been changing every day since he’s not been here. But the core, the values in the core remain the same as they were in ’98, as they were in ’05, as they were in ’10. I don’t think the values should change. But everything else can change.
The values ... the culture ... That's what is key. That's why you may notice that I often write about these things (like in this post).
There's so much more in the interview. It's one of my favorite interviews of Tim Cook.