Last week, Apple held their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center. Thousands of developers and media flooded the keynote on Monday as Tim Cook and co took the stage.
There was a supercharged iMac, a speaker, and plenty of iOS updates. We even saw 2 Singaporeans receiving the Apple Design Awards.
As the WWDC winded down towards the weekend, Tim Cook took to the stage once more. This time, he spoke to this year’s graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at their commencement address.
Here’s what he shared.
Tim Cook Spent 15 Years Finding His Path
The first thing Tim Cook hopes to help graduates with, is shortening the amount of time they take to find their own paths.
Back in High School, he thought that as long as he could answer what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would find his life’s purpose.
But he didn’t.
He didn’t find it when he got a good job, and not even after receiving a few promotions.
Wondering if that was all to life, he went into meditation religion, reading texts by great authors and philosophers, and even returned to graduate studies.
It was not until he had joined Apple some 15 years later, that he found somewhere he belonged.
We Should Serve Humanity
When Steve Jobs was heading Apple, he had only one clear, compelling purpose for the company – to serve humanity.
It was also why Cook felt Apple was the perfect fit for him when he joined 20 years ago.
This was a company constantly challenging the market with cutting edge work that also served a higher purpose – the belief that technology that didn’t exist yet, could reinvent tomorrow’s world.
“When you work towards something greater than yourself, you find meaning, you find purpose.”
Before he joined Apple, he had never thrown his entire self into work. His previous workplaces had no clear purpose themselves that also matched with his own.
It must be said that this wasn’t something he realised immediately.
However, he was just happy that a ‘psychological burden’ had been lifted off, and that gave him much-needed clarity.
Technology Can Both Be A Solution And A Problem
As much as science and technology improve our lives, they are also part of the problem the world faces.
This became more apparent after his meeting with Pope Francis, who despite the public perception, is well-read in all forms of technology. He had also spent a great deal of time reflecting on its effects, both good and bad.
The Pope expressed a shared concern in a powerful new way – never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it would be used wisely.
As technology becomes more integral, it helps us positively but as it connected us, it also divided us.
Technology has no will on its own, it doesn’t ‘want’ anything. We are supposed to guide it for the good of humanity, for our families, and everyone else around us.
“I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans. I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.”
Stay Focused On What Really Matters
This is a world where people get caught up easily with trivial issues on social media and Internet trolls, maybe even become one.
It is important today’s youth not lose themselves in ‘likes’ and followers, because that kind of popularity does nothing to touch people’s lives.
The more we stop caring about how others perceive us, the bigger our lives become.
Still, there will be times when our resolves would be tested by naysayers who question our will to serve humanity.
Be prepared to deny them.
“People will try to convince you that you should keep your empathy out of your career. Don’t accept this false premise.”
Have The Courage To Take A Stand For Your Cause
Cook rounded off his speech with something that happened at a past shareholders meeting, when someone questioned Apple’s heavy invest in the environment without necessarily seeing an Return of Investment (ROI).
He replied that it was “the right thing to do“, and Apple playing their part in protecting the environment is a critical example.
Apple also does a great many things that do not involve an ROI, such as the accessibility features in their devices for those with disabilities.
“When you are convinced that your cause is right, have the courage to take a stand. If you see a problem or an injustice, recognise that no one will fix it but you.”
And the shareholder who voiced out his (financial) concerns?
He was told by Tim Cook himself not to own Apple stocks if his beliefs were not aligned with the company.
Apple Taking Its Stand For Humanity And The Environment
After each product announcement, there will always be a slide about how it is manufactured according to certain sustainability and environmental standards.
Apple has been doing this for many years, and besides sourcing materials responsibly, they have a recycling program where you can offload your old products.
It is clear that current CEO Tim Cook is steering Apple in the direction the late Steve Jobs envisioned it to go.
As much as anyone claims that their products only receive incremental upgrades, the company’s commitment to the Earth is unquestionable.
If you’d like to watch the full commencement address, here it is.