A Few Interesting Nuggets From Tim Cook’s Tulane Commencement Speech

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You usually won’t catch me saying anything nice about Toolame. I’m a graduate of Louisiana State University and the Greenie Meanies are typically viewed by us as the expensive private school to the south that was once a rival, but now a runt. However, despite my distaste of their athletic programs, I can’t ignore Tim Cook giving a commencement speech there because there were actually a couple of interesting nuggets that are worth calling out.

First off, I have to give respect to Mr Cook for calling out the well-known phrase “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” as a crock. Anyone who loves their job and is leveling with you will tell you the same. Even if you love what you, hard work is still required to be successful. In Mr Cook’s words:

“At Apple, I learned that is a total crock. Rather, when you find a job you are passionate about, you will work hard, but you won’t mind doing so. You will work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands.”

Well said by a man who is well-known to be an incredibly hard worker.

Another bit from Cook’s speech is geared more specifically toward technology and relates to recent comments he has made about the need to limit our use of and dependence on devices and services.

“Today, certain algorithms pull you toward the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else,” he said. “Push back. It shouldn’t be this way. But in 2019 opening your eyes and seeing things in a new way can be a revolutionary act.” 

This can be seen solely as a dig at Facebook, and he definitely did throw some shade there. Cook has certainly given them a hard time over users data privacy, but truth be told, Apple is doing some of the same things when it comes to using AI and machine learning to serve up useful data to users. Those types of algorithms inherently trend toward keeping us inside a certain comfort zone. While Cook may have been directing this at more at Facebook and their news feed algorithms, these comments also apply to Apple, as well.

Despite Cook’s shots at the industry, the algorithms he speaks of do have legitimate value when used in proper context. I think a better takeaway is to encourage people to look beyond them and remember to think for themselves.

There was more, including a bit about his generation (and I guess mine, too) letting theirs down. However, the comments about hard work and thinking for yourself are what really stood out to me. My oldest son is a high school grad this year and these are the takeaways I will share with him.


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