Apple CEO Tim Cook says there’s at least one question your iPhone can’t answer: How do you build a life that offers both meaning and fulfillment?
Fortunately, Cook himself has some advice in that area. At the opening ceremony of Gallaudet University in Washington DC last month, Cook advised recent graduates to make decisions based more on their moral compass than on any other decision-making measure. From his own experience, Cook said, following your internal code of ethics and focusing on goals you feel drawn to is the best way to achieve success — both inside and outside the workplace.
“I know in my heart: staying true to who you are and what you believe is one of the most important choices you can make,” Cook said in his speech, which was translated into American Sign Language for the audience at Gallaudet, where the entire student body is deaf or hard of hearing. “It will help you build better relationships. It will help you find more job satisfaction. And with a little luck and a lot of effort, it will help you build a more meaningful life.”
Part of that process includes identifying your own personal moral code so you can “have a deep understanding of who you are and what you believe,” Cook said. One way to do that, he suggested, is to imagine an unpredictable situation and then decide how—in a perfect world—you would like to respond to it.
“When you envision your future… the question to ask is not, ‘What will happen?’ but ‘Who will I be when the time comes?'” Cook said. “I hope you’ll be kind and compassionate… I hope you’ll see the wonder of being part of something bigger than yourself. And finding magic in the service of others.”
Cook said a “sense of meaning” initially drew him to Apple in 1998. Since then, he added, he has prioritized his own values as he ran the company, with a focus on making Apple’s products inclusive, accessible and environmentally conscious.
“Our goal has always been to create technology that enriches people’s lives,” Cook said. “That’s why we’re working hard to make technology accessible to everyone, fighting to protect the fundamental right to privacy, and constantly innovating to help protect the environment and leave the world better than we found it .”
At Apple, customers can trade in old smartphones, watches or computers, and the company determines whether the products can be reused, resold or recycled. The tech giant also aims to create products with a net-zero carbon impact by 2030, according to its website.
Still, US government officials want to take Apple to the next level. Last week, three US Senate Democrats sent a letter to the secretary of the US Department of Commerce who is calling for a bill – similar to recently passed EU legislation – that would oblige all smartphone companies to make products around a universal charging cord.
Cook concluded his speech by noting that the students’ sense of community—particularly the sense they have built up during their college days—is a value not to be forgotten.
“I hope you are good stewards of the planet we inhabit and will be participants in the struggle to make it better, more equal, more accessible and more just,” Cook said. “I hope you hold on firmly to the community you’ve built here. Because whatever life brings, your success will be softened and your adversities softened.”
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