Tim Cook: 'I've never really felt the weight of trying to be Steve'

"Steve's legacy will always be in the DNA of the company, of bringing in the best people," Cook said. "I wouldn't get overly focused on who does what piece."

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs CNET

In a live interview at the D10 conference tonight in Palos Verdes, Calif., Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked once again what it's like to fill Steve Jobs' shoes.

"Steve was a genius and a visionary, and I've never viewed that my role was to replace him," said Cook. "Steve was an original. I've never really felt the weight of trying to be Steve. It's not my goal in life. I am who I am. I am focused on that. On being a great CEO of Apple."

He was further asked with Steve Jobs gone, who does the "curation" of products, who decides what will get into the hands of users? "Steve's legacy will always be in the DNA of the company, of bringing in the best people. I wouldn't get overly focused on who does what piece. There are a lot of key people. There have always been a lot of key people," he said.

"[Jobs] would agree that it moves. Look at what we're doing. It's not possible. You could have an S on your chest and a cape on your back and not be able to do it all."

Cook was asked who he looked up to in his life."If you walked in my office you would see Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. If you're talking about CEOs, I have incredible respect for Bob Iger and what he's done at Disney, and it's great to have him on the board. And that list is growing," he responded.

Kara Swisher asked Cook if his goal was to become a trillion dollar company? Cook gave an answer that most entrepreneurs would give. "Companies that get confused, that think their goal is revenue or stock price or something. You have to focus on the things that lead to those. For us, that's great products. So all our energies are on that, not the result of that," Cook said.

Cook, who joined Apple in 1998, shared his story of being recruited from hardware-maker Compaq, where he worked as vice president of corporate materials.

"It was a very interesting meeting. Steve had hired an executive search firm to find someone to run operations. I had gotten a call a few times and said no. They kept calling and calling," he said.

Cook took a red eye flight from Houston on a Saturday morning to meet with Apple. "Five minutes into the conversation, I am wanting to join Apple. I am shocked at this because it wasn't what I envisioned at all," he said.

At the time, Jobs was pushing Apple hard into the consumer space, which was not where Compaq as focused.

"I have never thought following the herd is a good strategy. You are destined to be average at best."

He immediately resigned from Compaq.

 

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