A Tim Cook Bio Is the Story of His Life — Not His Life Story
Reading Leander Kahney’s insightful if not terribly illuminating biography Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level is like attending a dinner where the guest of honor never arrives. Cook’s persona is omnipresent in the nearly 300-page tome, but the man himself never takes a seat at the table.
读利安德·卡尼(Leander Kahney)即将出版的新书《蒂姆·库克：将苹果带入新高度的天才》(Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to The Next Level)就像是去参加一个晚宴，但最重要的贵宾却迟迟没有出现。库克的人格在全书长达300页的叙述中无处不在，但却没有一处他本人的现身说法。
Apple granted Kahney, who has written several Apple-inspired books, including Jony Ive and Inside Steve’s Brain, unprecedented access to key Apple executives who’ve worked alongside Cook at Apple for decades. As a result, we do finally gain some insight into those early, tumultuous months after Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs died and Cook grabbed the wheel.
这本书的作者安德·卡尼，曾经还受苹果委托创作过其它几部以苹果为灵感的作品，包括人物传记Jony Ive《乔纳森·埃维》，英国籍的设计师和苹果公司的首席设计官，主管产品设计和人机界面设计；Inside Steve’s Brain《撬开苹果》。卡尼被授权可以接触到苹果公司跟库克一起干了几十年的高官。所以从他这本新书里，我们还是可以看到之前，在苹果的创始人兼史蒂夫乔布斯去世后，苹果动荡的那几个月里，库克是如何力挽狂澜的。
Yet there were countless times while reading the book that I wondered how the 58-year-old Cook was feeling — and instead got a one-step-removed observation from someone close to him. Even those comments failed to peel back the layers and only reiterated what most observers already knew. For instance, in describing what it was like for Cook, then Apple’s chief operating officer, to take over for Jobs in 2011, Greg Jozwiak, the company’s vice president of global marketing, said it was “ a daunting challenge” and “it was a significant challenge.” No one would argue the point, but that early quote made it clear that no one at Apple would be serving up any eye-openers.
Kahney traveled to Apple Park in March 2018 and talked to key company executives, including Jozwiak; Deirdre O’Brien, head of human resources; Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives; and former Apple counsel Bruce Sewell. But Cook refused to sit for even one interview with the author. As a result, Apple’s CEO remains a somewhat inscrutable figure.
卡尼于2018年3月前往Apple Park，与公司的主要高管们进行了交谈。 包括负责全球产品市场的副总裁Jozwiak，人力资源主管Deirdre O'Brien， 环境、政策和社会倡议副总裁Lisa Jackson，;和前苹果的律师布鲁斯塞维尔。但库克本人拒绝参加与作者的任何一次采访。因此，苹果首席执行官仍然是一个有点不可理喻的人物。
Through his publisher, Kahney told me, “Although Tim Cook declined to be interviewed, Apple made several executives available for interview who shared their experience and insights on working with Cook. I’m very grateful to the people at Apple who participated in and helped make these interviews possible.”
To fill the Cook gap, Kahney dove into hundreds of articles and multiple interviews spanning his tenure as the CEO of Apple and beyond. Most of it only confirms what we now know about Cook: Where Jobs was an enigma, Cook is a smart, polite, gracious, occasionally funny, and unassuming Southern gentleman with a gift for process and manufacturing.
If you’re looking for revelations, there are none. High drama? Cook is not a high drama sort of guy, a fact the book makes abundantly clear.
Kahney paints an adroit portrait of Cook as a young man in the Deep South and includes his brushes with racism—or at least what he witnessed in his hometown of Robertsdale, Alabama—including the time he came upon a group of hooded Klu Klux Klanners burning a cross on the lawn of an African American family in his neighborhood. It was an image that Cook once said “was permanently imprinted in my brain and it would change my life forever.” It’s worth noting that this section of the book offers up the closest thing I could find to controversy. Kahney discovered via a local Facebook group that not all residents believe Cook’s account and have even accused him of lying about it.
卡尼给大家描绘了一个生长在美国南方深处年轻人的画像，而且还增添了一些在种族主义方面的笔触。年少的库克在他的故乡阿拉巴马州罗伯茨代尔，亲眼目睹一群三K党在他家附近的一家非裔美国人的家庭的草坪上烧了十字架。库克曾经说“那一幕刻在了我的脑海里，并永远改变了我的人生。” 本书的这一部分提供了我能找到的最接近争议的点。 卡尼通过当地Facebook小组发现，并非所有居民都相信库克的所说的，甚至指责他撒谎。
The goal of this section, though, is not to stir up a war of collective memories. Instead, Kahney seeks to help the reader (and himself) understand Cook and his current worldview through the prism of his past. It’s often a stretch; even as Cook has spoken about his childhood and the racism he witnessed, he has stopped short of explaining exactly how his motivations and, more important, his personality changed — or didn’t change — over time.
Cook comes across as a man of insight, will, some grit, and ambition, reacting to and acting upon incidents and opportunities. He seems preternaturally formed — I get the feeling that those who knew Cook in his teens would have no trouble recognizing the man he is today. Unlike Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, which painted a portrait of a shambolic, dirty, somewhat wild genius who wore multiple personas and costumes throughout his lifetime, Kahney’s Cook is always Tim Cook.
Most of the book reads as a straightforward recitation of Cook’s growth as a businessman, manufacturing genius, and leader. It traces his time at Auburn University as he studied industrial engineering, his early work at Reynolds Aluminum, and his first big job at IBM. Cook remained at IBM for more than a dozen years, and if there’s anyplace that could be credited with helping him develop the Cook Way of manufacturing, it’s IBM and its just-in-time product delivery strategy.
In another example of Kahney failing to get beneath the surface, Cook’s decision to leave IBM after a dozen years for the tiny Intelligent Electronics is left opaque.
Cook took two major risks during his life and career. One was leaving the stability of Compaq for Apple in 1998, when the company was still emerging from the doldrums and Jobs was just returning from exile. The other was revealing, three years after he became CEO of Apple, that he is gay.
Cook’s early days, weeks, and months as CEO after the death of Steve Jobs are among the book’s most compelling sections.
As the CEO of one of the world’s most important and watched companies, Cook’s decision to reveal his sexual orientation might be considered brave and fraught with risk. In reality, most people in the industry knew, and when Cook announced it in a 2014 Bloomberg post, the reaction was positive, muted, and even lighthearted.
Cook insisted he did not write the essay to garner attention, but rather to help others who are struggling with revealing their sexual orientation, because, as he put it, “people need to hear that being gay is not a limitation.”
While Cook didn’t try to hide being gay at Apple, the book doesn’t offer any insight into how Cook navigated his homosexuality as a young man in a Southern town. In fact, no one Cook went to school with seemed to know about his sexual orientation, and without insight from the man himself, it’s hard to understand exactly how being a young gay man in the South helped shape Cook’s worldview. Kahney also fails to learn if Cook is in a committed relationship or if he has ever considered having children.
Cook’s second major risk—leaving Compaq for Apple—is cobbled together from a variety of recollections Cook shared, including one to me in 2013 at the AllThingsD Conference. Yet the book never manages to put you in the room with Jobs and Cook for that first momentous conversation—the one where, as Cook told me, “The honest-to-god truth is, five minutes into the conversation, I’m wanting to join Apple. And I was shocked at this, because it wasn’t how I went into the conversation at all.”
库克人生中冒的第一个主要风险 - 离开康柏去苹果-是由库克共享的各种回忆拼凑而成的，其中包括2013年AllThingsD会议上他的发言。然而，这本书却没有办法让你得知，库克和乔布斯一起进行的那次，也是第一次重要的对话 - 正如库克告诉我的那样，“对上帝发誓，谈了五分钟，我就想要加入Apple了。我对此也感到震惊，因为这根本不是我跟人谈事的方式。“
Much of the book is a play-by-play of Cook’s Apple career. It dispels the notion that Cook emerged on the scene in 2009, the first time he stepped in as interim CEO for an ailing Jobs. The reality is that Cook had an impact almost from day one. It was his idea to radically reduce inventories and outsource manufacturing. Even the success of the iMac could be partially credited to Cook, who, in 1998, according to Kahney, booked $100 million worth of air freight in advance, ensuring the on-time holiday delivery of iMacs, while leaving competitors scrambling to find shipping options for their holiday products.
Cook once said that he was impressed with Jobs because the Apple founder was someone who had money, but clearly didn’t care about it. What might someone say about Cook?
Cook’s early days, weeks, and months as CEO after the death of Steve Jobs are among the book’s most compelling sections. It is filled with successes, failures, retrenchments, departures, and, yes, even firings — though Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s HR head, manages to avoid using the F-word. She says some people opted out, while others “Tim felt were not the right fit for the team he ended up assembling.”
Kahney doesn’t shy away from the various controversies Cook and Apple have dealt with in the past five years, including Cook’s protracted battle with the FBI over the San Bernardino shooter’s locked iPhone. Apple even allowed Bruce Sewell to reveal that Cook “was a little disappointed that we didn’t get a resolution” and that Cook wanted the theories of the case tested in court.
Everything from Foxconn suicides to Apple’s disastrous Maps app is covered. The resolution of the latter is used to illustrate the stark difference between Jobs and Cook. Cook sent out a public apology letter for Apple Maps, noting that Apple’s goal is to make “the best products in the world,” and he promised to “keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.” While Jobs also apologized, it was rarely as quick or fulsome.
Cook once said that he was impressed with Jobs because the Apple founder was someone who had money but clearly didn’t care about it. What might someone say about Cook? Kahney’s book paints a portrait of someone with tremendous market power who seems uninterested in using that power to amass more power. Instead, Cook is increasingly focused on Apple being a force for good. He has pressed hard for diversity, carbon neutrality, and privacy that benefits Apple’s customers more than it does Apple.
Overall, the book, like its subject, is a product of control. By letting Cook stand just offstage, nodding in approval but never speaking for himself, the book feels incomplete. It delivers a rich tale of executive development and maverick ideas without ever delivering the man himself.
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