Fourteen years after Steve Jobs stood on the Standford graduation stage to deliver the commencement address, Apple CEO Tim Cook followed in his footsteps, standing on the same stage this past Sunday to deliver his own. Cooks highlighted three topics throughout his address — dealing with modern-day technology, becoming a builder, and being ready for life.
Cook started out discussing something that our generation is plagued with that previous generations have not been — technology and the good, bad and ugly sides of it. Cook begins, “Because if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that technology doesn’t change who we are, it magnifies who we are, the good and the bad.”
He continues to highlight the most prevalent downfalls that technology brings with it, including privacy violations, hate speech, and fake news. Cook even goes as far as saying that when we allow our privacy to be taken away from us through the means of technology/social media, “we lose the freedom to be human.”
Cook believes that the lack of privacy the current generation faces directly correlates to our freedom of expression and creativity. The less privacy we have, the more wary we are to share different points of view, unique ideas, and just be downright different from the crowd. Cook wraps up his thoughts on this issue with, “it’s our duty to change course, because your generation ought to have the same freedom to shape the future as the generation that came before.”
Cook continues with a more positive topic of conversation — humility. He states, “No matter where you go, no matter what you do, I know you will be ambitious. You wouldn’t be here today if you weren’t. Match that ambition with humility – a humility of purpose. That doesn’t mean being tamer, being smaller, being less in what you do. It’s the opposite, it’s about serving something greater.”
Cook further explains that having humility makes one a builder. According to Cook, having humility and being a builder go hand-in-hand because being a builder means knowing that whatever it is that you’re building will someday be much bigger than just you. Essentially, builders do not simply build for their own benefit — they build knowing that they will be having an impact on generations beyond them.
Cook wraps up his address with an anecdote of him and his dear friend and mentor, Steve Jobs. He talked about Jobs becoming sick, and the harsh reality he had to face when he had to take over Apple when Jobs ultimately passed. He explained, “And when he was gone, truly gone, I learned the real, visceral difference between preparation and readiness.”
Cook even reminded the crowd of the main takeaway of Job’s commencement address 14 years ago — “Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life,” he continues, “It takes too much mental effort – effort that should be dedicated to creating and building.”
Cooks ends his address with a stern, powerful piece of advice for our generation — “Don’t get distracted. There are too many people who want credit without responsibility. Too many who show up for the ribbon cutting without building anything worth a damn. Be different. Leave something worthy.”
Read Cook’s entire address here.