You know a phenomenal public speaker when you hear one. Such is the case with Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who gave the commencement speech at MIT’s graduation ceremony last week. Cook discussed the individual pursuit of purpose and meaning through work – incorporating his personal experiences to convey his message. Watch his full speech below, which starts about 17 minutes into the video.
Cook is fervent, organized, and introspective. With the qualities of the most inspirational life coach a person could think of and the thoughtfulness of the world’s most avid learner, Cook is Liberator through and through.
So, naturally, he scores high in all four of the Badge presentation training quadrants.
As the Liberator presentation persona, Cook excels at preparation, research, and organization. Immediately, he establishes a connection with his audience by describing the similarities between Apple and MIT: both groups relish in difficult challenges, enjoy the hunt for new ideas, and crave the discovery of those solutions capable of worldly impact. Cook demonstrates knowledge of the MIT experience when he provides examples of past classes’ pranks. Beyond his deep understanding of the students in the crowd, Cook maintained a consistent and universal theme throughout his speech. In typical Liberator fashion, he created a seamless structure with a beautiful, storytelling narrative focused on his own struggles to find his purpose.
“Part of me kept pushing ahead to the next achievement. And the other part kept asking, ‘Is this all there is?’” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
There was not a hint of discomfort or a flicker of stiffness noticeable within the Apple leader during the commencement speech. Even when he fumbled through a couple of words midway through his speech, he handled the flub with grace and absolute composure. He utilized humor strategically – making a hilarious jab at PCs that had the audience laughing out loud. What struck me the hardest, however, was Cook’s vulnerability and complete openness about the obstacles he encountered when searching for his purpose and the moment of exaltation he had when he discovered it.
“Steve and Apple freed me to throw my whole self into my work. To embrace their mission and make it my own. ‘How can I serve humanity?’ This is life’s biggest and most important question.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
His command of the room and of his message contributes to his high score in Sharing.
It’s hard to listen to Cook’s commencement speech and not like him. When a speech can make you believe that anything is possible, that you are meant to create monumental ideas, and that the fate of humanity lies in your hands, you just know you are listening to a winner.
“I found that my life got bigger when I stopped caring what other people thought about me.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
In addition, the audience physically present for the Apple CEO’s speech reacted positively to his message – clapping and laughing at appropriate junctures.
Cook touches on critical themes that are top-of-mind for his presentation audience. His central question – “How will you serve humanity?” – addresses our individual desires to be a servant of the greater good. Drawing upon recent debate material, Cook explored the intersection of technology and humanity to illustrate the importance of using the resources and information we have available to us for good.
“When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact. It means an iPhone that allows a blind person to run a marathon. It means an Apple watch that catches a heart condition before it becomes a heart attack. It means an iPad that helps a child with autism connect with his or her world.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
At the conclusion of his talk, Cook told a story about how he stood up for Apple’s values in a shareholder meeting a few years ago. One person in the room questioned Apple’s investment in environmental initiatives without valuable ROI. Cook maintained that you need to support efforts to make the world a better place despite an impeccable ROI.
“I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans. I am more concerned about people thinking like computers – without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
To tie up any loose ends in his speech, Cook shares an inspirational quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. His reason for doing so? To reiterate the themes of purpose, compassion, and progress for all.
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