For her latest Summit on Principles, Kara Swisher brought together Tim Cook, Jony Ive and Laurene Powell Jobs on one stage to commemorate the life and legacy of Steve Jobs. Jobs was the first Swisher Principles Conference interview 20 years ago, when it was called D: All Things Digital.
Go below for a summary of some quotes from the high-profile interview between Swisher, Jobs, Cook and Ive. Topics included stories about discussions between Tim and Steve, designing with Jony, what Steve could do today, and much more.
About how Steve would see the world and Apple today
Tim Cook: I believe and hope he would be proud. On a day like this we bring many innovations that are true to the principles he set. In the larger world, he would be dismayed by much of what he sees. Kind of fandom and division in the world. But I think he would be happy for us to respect his core values such as privacy and environmental protection.
These were important to him. We continue to innovate and try to give people something that allows them to do something they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. And give them the tools to realize themselves and change the world in their own way.
Works by Laurene Powell: I would say that it is not only discrimination, not only the fact that people come with blows in the family and society and our country, but also that he loved our country very much. He loved California, but he loved our country. He liked the idea of America.
It was very important to him to be able to bring something back to the human experience, and I think he would not be silent about that.
Jony Ive: Definitely disappointing. I could imagine her mad and angry but also with that kind of compassion and love for the values that Laurene was expressing. If you’re going to do something really hard, you need that kind of fuel and anger. I think he would buy her curiosity and her fearlessness to have ideas.
About today’s design challenges and… Tesla?
Johnny: The challenges remain the same. I think there is a good ability to handle interfaces like, say, multi-touch. But we remain physical beings. I think the pendulum could possibly swing a bit to have longer and more physically engaging interfaces and products.
Cara: Do you like cars?
Johnny: For example, yes.
Kara: What would the car you design look like?
Johnny: You know I can’t tell you.
Lauren: I’m not a car, really. I like nice old cars that are not safe to drive anymore, so I find my cars soulless. I would say I know [Tim and Jony] I don’t like Tesla’s design, but I like how safe it is. It is really very good.
On the Steve Jobs debate
Tim: There was always a debate. I know there were myths that you didn’t discuss, but that’s not true. In fact, if you didn’t argue with him, he would knock you down. And he didn’t work well with those kinds of people who wouldn’t feel comfortable negotiating and backing down.
Cara: What was the biggest debate you and Steve had?
Tim Cook: How the original iPhone was sold. I was in favor of putting it in a subsidy model and it was for a portion of the income. His method was more creative and different; my path would rise rapidly, at least I felt that much. And so we had a whole debate about that for a while, it was a years-long debate.
What do you think Steve would do today?
Tim: I wouldn’t have guessed. I think Steve was always changing; he was not still. It would take a firmly held belief, and present it with a new reality that would change. It was one of the biggest things I liked about it.
I think that’s a great trait of people because people are stuck in their old way of thinking regardless of new ideas and ideas come up.
Lauren: It would be changing. He was also very careful not to stay too long at the wheel and give space to others. He dreamed of teaching eventually, and because we live near Stanford, you know that idea of riding his bike to Stanford and teaching classes. I think he could teach almost anything, and people would benefit from it.
Johnny: I couldn’t agree more. I think part of the curiosity, which I think defines Steve a lot, is your desire to learn. And learning is more important than being right, as Tim said.
Best and worst behavior
Lauren: Every day he had a list of people he called and just asked what was going on. ‘What do you see? What do you think? What are you looking at?’
He was going through the industry and calling people who were, in fact, answering the phone, and he was just, you know, always picking people’s brains, which was very interesting. I don’t think that’s a common trait for him.
However, while he would feel, to his detriment, too confident in the view that results from it, it is not necessary to question it in the way that he might have. But it also worked to his advantage.
On the competition
Tim: If we are looking for change in our business, we really have strong competitors; we are in a very competitive industry. We are not the market leader; Samsung is. There are also many other people in the smartphone business, including Google.
And so all these people are spending tons of time and money all over the world. What we do is try to tell the story of our products very simply.
Steve Jobs cover
Describe Steve Jobs in one word
Lauren: To shine.
Kara: It’s amazing.
A final quote
Kara closed the meeting in tears by reading one of her favorite quotes from Steve Jobs:
Remembering that I will soon die is the most important tool I have ever come across to help me make big decisions in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of shame or failure – those things crumble in the face of death, leaving behind what is really important.
There’s no replay of the event yet, but we’ll be sure to share it when or if it becomes available.
Watch the video below for more Apple news: