The Wall Street Journal on Friday published a detailed excerpt from Yukari Iwatani Kane’s upcoming book, “Haunted Empire.” The book promises to take a close look at Apple in the post-Steve Jobs era, with the excerpt itself focusing on the management style of Tim Cook, the man charged with keeping Apple at the forefront of the innovation curve.
From the get-go, Kane writes that Cook brought a no-nonsense approach to Apple’s operations team.
From the start of his Apple tenure, Cook set colossally high expectations. He wanted the best price, the best delivery, the best yield, the best everything. “I want you to act like we are a $20 billion company,” he told the procurement team-even though Apple then had only about $6 billion in annual revenues and was barely eking out a profit. They were playing in a new league now.
A notorious by-the-numbers man, Cook has an affinity for cold hard data and expected the utmost attention to detail in corporate meetings. When presentations didn’t align with his expectations, he wasn’t shy about hiding his disdain.
Meetings with Cook could be terrifying. He exuded a Zenlike calm and didn’t waste words. “Talk about your numbers. Put your spreadsheet up,” he’d say as he nursed a Mountain Dew. (Some staffers wondered why he wasn’t bouncing off the walls from the caffeine.) When Cook turned the spotlight on someone, he hammered them with questions until he was satisfied. “Why is that?” “What do you mean?” “I don’t understand. Why are you not making it clear?” He was known to ask the same exact question 10 times in a row.
And in stark contrast to Jobs, who had a penchant for flying off the handle at times, Cook relied on the “power of silence.” Kane relays a story from an Apple meeting when an underling, unable to answer one of Cook’s questions, was greeted with a stare and a prolonged awkward silence.
Unperturbed, Cook didn’t move a finger as he focused his eyes on his squirming target. Sometimes he would take an energy bar from his pocket while he waited for an answer, and the hush would be broken only by the crackling of the wrapper.
Kane also adds more color to one of the few things we already knew about Cook, namely that he’s nothing short of a workaholic.
Cook demonstrated the same level of austerity and discipline in his life as he did in his work. He woke up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and hit the gym several times a week. He ate protein bars throughout the day and had simple meals like chicken and rice for lunch.
His stamina was inhuman. He could fly to Asia, spend three days there, fly back, land at 7 a.m. at the airport and be in the office by 8:30, interrogating someone about some numbers.
There’s much more to digest in the full book excerpt, which is well worth checking out in its entirety.