Who Apple CEO Tim Cook turns to for advice

He probably calls them on one of those things behind him.
He probably calls them on one of those things behind him.
Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Even the CEO of the largest company in the world needs some help from time to time.

In a sprawling interview with the Washington Post published yesterday (Aug. 14), Tim Cook reflected on his first five years at the helm of Apple, and gave some indications of what lies ahead for the tech giant. Over the course of the conversation, Cook mentioned a few people that he has turned to for advice on a range of issues, from his personal life, to how to handle a congressional hearing.

“I think it’s incumbent on a CEO to not just listen to points of view but to actually solicit them,” Cook said in the interview. “Because I think, if not, you quickly become insular. And you’re sort of living in the echo chamber.”

Here’s who Cook said he has reached out to in the past:

Anderson Cooper. The CNN journalist and anchor came out as gay in 2012, and Cook spoke with him multiple times, looking for advice on how he should announce his own sexuality, which he did in 2014. “I thought that the way that he handled his announcement was really classy,” Cook said.

Bill Clinton. Cook spoke to the former US president, who he’d met through Clinton’s charitable organization, about how to handle testifying in Congress about Apple’s tax practices in 2013. “He knows a lot about the politics,” Cook said.

Lloyd Blankfein. Cook also spoke with the CEO of Goldman Sachs about the congressional hearing. “I knew Lloyd and thought he’d be honest with me.”

Warren Buffett. ”When I was going through [the question of] what should we do on returning cash to shareholders, I thought who could really give us great advice here? Who wouldn’t have a bias? So I called up Warren Buffett. I thought he’s the natural person.” (In 2012, Apple announced plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.)

Laurene Powell Jobs. Former CEO Steve Jobs’ widow is also a close confidant of Cook’s. “Laurene has the lens of knowing me and deeply understanding Apple.” Since the passing of her husband, Jobs has focused on bringing education to underprivileged kids, and is estimated to be worth roughly $18 billion.

Craig Federighi. The only Apple employee mentioned by Cook is the head of software engineering at the company. Cook said he spoke with him and others about the decision to not create software to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone at the request of the FBI.