13 inspirational quotes from Apple CEO Tim Cook

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Apple CEO Tim Cook holds an iPad during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 16, 2014
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Robert Galbraith/Reuters

As the CEO of Apple, it’s Tim Cook’s job to lead the most valuable company in the world.

And, long before he became CEO, Cook was responsible for managing all of the company’s sales and operations worldwide. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about success, leadership, organization, and innovation.

Here are a few of Cook’s most inspiring quotes pulled from interviews, essays, and commencement speeches he’s given in recent years.


“The sidelines are not where you want to live your life. The world needs you in the arena.”

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The Wall Street Journal via YouTube

Said during his commencement speech at George Washington University in 2015


“It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”

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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

On being gay, written his essay published in Bloomberg


“History rarely yields to one person, but think and never forget what happens when it does. That can be you. That should be you. That must be you.”

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Stephen Lam / Getty

Said during his commencement speechat George Washington University in 2015


“Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better.”

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Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Said when speaking to Bloomberg about the change from iOS 6 to iOS 7


“There’s this thing in technology, almost a disease, where the definition of success is making the most. How many clicks did you get, how many active users do you have, how many units did you sell? Everybody in technology seems to want big numbers. Steve never got carried away with that. He focused on making the best.”

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Tim Cook and Steve Jobs
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Flickr/Thetaxhaven

On Apple’s vision and Steve Jobs’ legacy when speaking to Fast Company


“We see that privacy is a fundamental human right that people have. We are going to do everything that we can to help maintain that trust.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook listens to U.S. President Barack Obama speak at the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University in Palo Alta, California February 13, 2015.
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REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Said to NPR when speaking about privacy


“He’s not given credit as a teacher. But he’s the best teacher I ever had by far. There was nothing traditional about him as a teacher. But he was the best. He was the absolute best.”

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REUTERS/Kimberly White

On Steve Jobs when speaking to Fast Company


“So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On his decision to come out publicly, written in his essay published in Bloomberg


“It’s about finding your values, and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.”

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Asa Mathat | D: All Things Digital

Said during his commencement speechat George Washington University in 2015


“There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate—when a particular course of action just feels right. And interestingly I’ve discovered it’s in facing life’s most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable to getting it right.”

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Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Said during his commencement speech at Auburn University in 2010 (via Fast Company)


“Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook
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Business Insider/Julie Bort

On being gay, written his essay published in Bloomberg


“We weren’t first on the MP3 player; we weren’t first on the tablet; we weren’t first on the smartphone. But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch—the first one that matters.”

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Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

On the Apple Watch, when speaking with Fast Company


“Apple has always had the discipline to make the bold decision to walk away.”

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Getty Images/Stephen Lam

On the philosophy behind Apple’s product development, when speaking to Fast Company