Apple CEO Tim Cook explains the 'revelation' he had late in life that led him to realize his 'highest value'

Tim CookGetty
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook said everyone's highest purpose in life is to "help somebody else."
  • Cook made the remark at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference, where he talked about how his values guide his business decisions at Apple.
  • Cook said that by focusing on serving others, a lot of complex decisions in life become "pretty simple."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told an audience on Tuesday how he realized late in life that "the reason we are all here is to help somebody else."

Cook's remarks came at the end of an interview with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on stage at the annual Dreamforce mega-conference, where the two had been discussing Apple's corporate values - especially around innovation, user privacy, and environmental stewardship.

Benioff asked Cook: "When you think about yourself, you know, what is your highest value?"

Cook replied with a story about a "revelation" he had that came later in his life, in his "upper 30s."

"At some point, you recognize the reason we are all here is to help somebody else - that that is the sole reason we are here. And once you get that in your head, as it turns out, life gets so much simpler," Cook said, in part. You can read his full answer below.

He said that with this framing in mind, "you can take a lot of decisions that can be very complex, and you can kind of make them pretty simple," he said. 

Read Cook's full answer:

My revelation in life was, it probably came too late, but in my upper 30s, where it became clear to me you're sort of searching for your lifetime for your purpose. I'm sure some people in the audience have done this too, you're sort of on a search, and you convince yourself early in life, well, my purpose is deciding my major in school. So you decide your major and you graduate and, guess what, you still don't know what your purpose is. And so you keep looking and you think, well, it's about getting a job. Well no, it wasn't that. And maybe it becomes a promotion, maybe it becomes a marriage, maybe it becomes a child. And at some point, you recognize the reason we are all here is to help somebody else - that that is the sole reason we are here. And once you get that in your head, as it turns out, life gets so much simpler, it gets so much simpler. And that's how I view it. That's how I view it. And so, using that as kind of the north star, you can take a lot of decisions that can be very complex, and you can kind of make them pretty simple - that you're here in the service of other people, that it's not about you. And I very much deeply believe that.

Watch the full interview below. Cook's interview begins approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes into the video.

 

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