After his speech at Tulane University last month, Tim Cook today book the opening speech at Stanford University. During the speech, Cook invoked Steve Jobs, talked about digital privacy, and so much more.
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Tim Cook's speech at Stanford today was made even more remarkable by the fact that Steve Jobs, a student who dropped out of school, delivered the opening speech at school 14 years ago. Cook referred to this in his speech today. Apple's CEO explained that Stanford and Silicon Valley have long been woven together, but recent events need some thought.
The roots of Stanford and Silicon Valley are woven together. We are part of the same ecosystem. It was true when Steve was on this scene 14 years ago. This is true today and probably for a long time. The last decades have brought us together. But today, we are meeting at a time that calls for reflection.
Fueled by caffeine and code, optimism and idealism, belief and creativity, generations of Stanford graduates – and dropouts – have used technology to remake our society. But I think you will agree with me that in recent times the results have been neither clear nor clear. In just four years on the farm, you have the impression that the situation has taken a turn. The crisis tempered optimism, the consequences challenged idealism and reality shook blind faith. And yet, we are still drawn here. For a good reason; the big dreams live there, as well as the genius and passion to make them come true.
Cook said Silicon Valley was responsible for many groundbreaking inventions, but in recent times, the industry is increasingly being recognized by people claiming credit without claiming responsibility. "We are seeing it every day now, with every data breach, every violation of privacy, every blind eye turned to hate speech and false news poisoning our national conversation," Cook said.
Whether you like it or not, what you build defines who you are. If you build a chaos factory, you will not be able to deny responsibility for chaos. There are few areas where this is more important than privacy. If we accept the normal and inevitable fact that everything can be aggregated, sold or even disclosed in case of hacking, we lose so much more than just data. We lose the freedom of being human.
In a world without digital privacy, even if you have not done anything wrong to think otherwise, you start to censor yourself. Your generation should have the same freedom to shape the future as the previous generation. Graduates, at least, learn from these mistakes. If you want to take credit, start by learning to assume your responsibilities.
Congratulations to the Stanford promotion in 2019! It was an honor to celebrate with you today! 🎓 Be different. Leave something worthy. And always remember that you can not take it with you. You will have to transmit it. # Stanford19 pic.twitter.com/GwW5UHslXD
– Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 16, 2019
Cook also encouraged Stanford graduates to become builders – and to recognize that their work in life will one day be bigger than they are. Cook personally explained that he was incredibly grateful for what those at the Stonewall Inn had the courage to build almost 50 years ago:
Whatever you do with your life, be a builder. There is no need to start from scratch to build something monumental. And conversely, the best founders, those whose creations last and whose reputation grows rather than shrinks over time, spend most of their time building piece by piece. Builders are convinced that one day their work will be bigger than them. Bigger than any other person. They are aware that their effects will extend over several generations. It's not an accident, and in a way, that's the whole problem.
In a few days, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. When guests at the Stonewall Inn Inn arrived that night, people of all races, gay and transgender, young and old, had no idea what history had in store for them. . It would have seemed stupid to dream him. It was just another example of the world telling them that they should not feel worthy to be different. But the group gathered felt something strong in them. A belief that they deserved something better than the shadow and better than forgetfulness. And if that were not going to be given, they would have to build it themselves.
I was 8 years and a thousand miles away when Stonewall arrived. There was no news alert, no way for photos to become viral, no mechanism for a child from the Gulf Coast to hear these unlikely heroes tell their stories. Greenwich Village may well have been a different planet; although I can tell you that insults and hatred were the same. What I did not know for a long time was what I owned in a group of people in a place I had never been to. I will never stop being thankful for what they had the courage to build.
Cook also referred to Steve Jobs' speech, offering a corollary to what Jobs said in his speech:
This brings me to my last advice. 14 years ago, Steve was on this stage and told your predecessors: "Your time is limited, so do not waste your time living someone else's life." Here's my corollary: You mentors can prepare you, but they can not get you ready.
Regarding the death of Jobs, Cook explained that he was initially convinced that Jobs would not run Apple in the coming years. Cook said that after Jobs' death, he was "the most lonely" that he ever felt in his life:
When Steve got sick, I thought he'd be cured. Not only did I think he would hold out, but I was sure he was still guiding Apple long after I left.
Then one day he called me to tell me it would not be like that. Even then, I was convinced that he would stay as president. That he would retire from everyday life, but would always remain present. But there was no reason to believe it. I should never have thought about it. The facts were all there. And when he left, really gone, I learned the real visceral difference between preparation and availability. It was the deepest loneliness I have ever seen in my life.
It's one of those moments where you can be surrounded by people, but you can not really see them, hear them, feel them. But I could feel their expectations. When the dust dissipated, all I knew was that I had to be the best version of myself that I could be. I knew that if you got up every morning and set your watch to what others expect or demand, it would drive you crazy. So, what was true then is true now. Do not waste your time living the life of someone else. It requires too much mental effort; effort that should be devoted to creation or construction.
In conclusion, Tim Cook encouraged Stanford graduates to be different and to leave something worthwhile – and they know they will one day pass it on:
Graduates, the fact is that when your time comes, you will never be ready. But you are not supposed to be it. Find hope in the unexpected. Find the courage in the challenge. Find your vision on the lonely road. Do not be distracted. There are too many people who want credit without liability. Too many people come to the ribbon cutting without building anything else.
Be different, leave something worthwhile and always remember that you can not take it with you. You will have to transmit it.
Tim Cook's complete address in Stanford is shown below.