What can you learn about business from Tim Cook?

question_road_signI always wanted to write a link bait title and an article to go with it that is based on another article on a popular leader. May be this is that article.  But honestly I do not believe you can learn effectively by imitating the observable traits of any leader let alone from a blog post that is a second or third derivation of the original piece (which itself is filled with biases).

When I was at Haas School, Berkeley I had  a great Pricing professor who was known for sharing practical wisdom with his students. For example,

  1. Shark fin soup in certain San Francisco restaurant is the best
  2. You need a business model where you make money even when you are in the golf course
  3. When you are in business meetings listen for questions, note down the most insightful questions and ask them yourself in the next meeting.

First advice is not relevant to me. Second doesn’t matter as well as I don’t golf (yeah, that’s the problem with that wisdom). Third is a really good actionable advice with immediate results. Asking right questions is important because that shakes out the bugs in your proposal and takes you on to the next step in better shape than you were in before.

In the TV series Vikings, the leading character says this to the soothsayer (Guru?),

Ragnar: You didn’t answer my question.

Soothsayer: May be you didn’t ask the right question.

Neil deGrasse Tyson says this on asking questions,

my favorite question is one that we don’t even know to ask yet because it’s a question that would arise upon answering these questions I just delivered to you. … If you’re a scientist and you have to have an answer, even in the absence of data, you’re not going to be a good scientist.

You can easily substitute the word “scientist” in his quote with “decision maker” and not lose any meaning.

It is questions  with intent of finding  the assumptions made, data used and data NOT used that are lot more important in improving decision making. It is those questions that are driven by curiosity and driven by the need to understand and with the admission that you do not know all the answers that are important.

Not the questions  like the one you see on this post title.

If you insist on learning from Tim Cook you sure can learn from his questions,

“Why is that?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t understand. Why are you not making it clear?”

Why do you ask questions?

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