Last month, I wrote several articles focused one CPO’s rise – that of Tim Cook – who went from Chief Procurement Officer to CEO of Apple, the world’s largest company. Here are the articles on Steve Jobs, Apple, & Cook:

With the expected launch today of Apple’s iPhone5, millions will hear Tim Cook talk about Apple’s new products. As a parallel (and since careers and career management within procurement have been a longstanding topic on CPO Rising), I thought it would be interesting to hear Tim Cook talk about his career path, influences, and choices in his own words. (Note that every bullet below is a direct quote from Cook made over the last few years).

  • I am where I am in life because my parents sacrificed more than they should have. Because of teachers, professors, friends, and mentors who cared more than they had to. And because of Steve Jobs and Apple who have provided me the opportunity to engage in truly meaningful work every day for over 12 years.
  • My most significant discovery so far in my life was the result of one single decision: My decision to join Apple.
  • Focus is key. Not just in your company, but in your personal life as well.
  • Do many things great and cast aside everything else.
  • Steve Jobs taught us not to focus on the past. Be future-focused. If you’ve done something great or terrible, go on and forget it and create the next thing and the next thing.
  • Working at Apple was never in any plan that I’d outlined for myself, but was without a doubt the best decision that I ever made.
  • The decision to come to Apple. which I made in early 1998 was not so obvious. The Apple in early 1998 was very different than the Apple of today. In 1998 there was no iPad or iMac or iPhone, there wasn’t even an iPod.
  • While Apple did make Macs, the company had been losing sales for years and was commonly considered to be on the verge of extinction.
  • So Apple was in a very different place than it is today, and my employer at the time, Compaq Computer, was the largest personal computer company in the world.
  • Any purely rational consideration of cost and benefits lined up in Compaq’s favor, and the people who knew me best advised me to stay at Compaq.
  • One CEO I consulted felt so strongly about it he told me I would be a fool to leave Compaq for Apple.
  • In making the decision to come to Apple, I had to think beyond my training as an engineer. Engineers are taught to make decisions analytically and largely without emotion. When it comes to a decision between alternatives we enumerate the cost and benefits and decide which one is better. But there are times in our lives when the careful consideration of cost and benefits just doesn’t seem like the right way to make a decision. 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.
  • In turning important decisions over to intuition one has to give up on the idea of developing a life plan that will bear any resemblance to what ultimately unfolds. Intuition is something that occurs in the moment, and if you are open to it. If you listen to it it has the potential to direct or redirect you in a way that is best for you.
  • 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. My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius, and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company.
  • There was always a part of me that very much wanted to have a 25-year plan as a guide to life. When I went to business school we even had an exercise to do a 25-year plan. I didn’t understand it then as a young MBA student, but life has a habit of throwing you curve balls.
  • Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to plan for the future, but if you’re like me and you occasionally want to swing for the fences you can’t count on a predictable life.

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